Zay bill would provide funding for pilot child welfare program

State Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) authored Senate Bill 365 this session, which would provide the necessary funding to pilot a child welfare program in Indiana.

The Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) has struggled to keep up with the surging number of cases in Indiana, as the foster care population in the state has increased by more than 50 percent since 2012. The rate of Hoosier children referred to child protective services is the third highest in the nation and over twice the national average.

“These are alarming statistics for our state,” Zay said. “Hoosiers must work together to create a support system for at-risk children. SB 365 would introduce a technology platform called the Care Portal, which would connect DCS and faith-based community programs to strengthen child welfare resources in our communities. The Care Portal is a unique solution that would help address both the growing number of cases and costs associated with satisfying the needs of children in our state. It’s time for Indiana to step up to ensure every child has the loving support system they deserve, and this legislation would be a first step toward addressing this issue.”

Eighteen states have implemented the Care Portal in select communities and found success. Since its roll out in 2015, more than 35,000 children and their families have had their real-time needs met by utilizing the platform.

SB 365 would connect key community stakeholders by bringing churches, nonprofits and child welfare agencies together to protect vulnerable children and strengthen families at a local level.

Zay will present SB 365 to the Senate Committee on Family and Children Services on Feb. 11.