Zay bill to address child services passes senate

A bipartisan bill authored by State Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington), Senate Bill 365, that would address the Indiana Department of Child Services’ (DCS) skyrocketing caseloads and escalating costs to maintain the agency passed the Senate unanimously.

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. DCS is projected to be at least $238 million over budget in the current fiscal year. The governor has kept the state budget balanced by reverting funds from other agencies to cover DCS.

“These are alarming statistics for our state,” said Zay. “Hoosiers must work together to create a support system for at-risk children. SB 365 would introduce a technology platform like the CarePortal, which would connect DCS, nonprofit, business community and faith-based programs to strengthen child welfare resources in our communities. The CarePortal 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 CarePortal in select communities and found success. More than 35,000 children and their families have had their real-time needs met by utilizing the platform since its rollout in 2015.

SB 365 will now be considered by the Indiana House of Representatives.