May 19, 2016

Commission On Child Welfare Develops New Strategic Plan

Indiana’s Commission on Improving the Status of Children wants to refocus its efforts on improving child welfare by developing a new strategic plan.

The commission was formed by the General Assembly in 2013 and received a progress report from a national child welfare consultant group. Consultant Holly Merz says the commission has made great strides in relationship-building in a child welfare system that’s spread in some cases across a dozen different agencies.

“Everyone has really talked about the fact that they know who to talk to, now, in different systems. They have relationships where they can pick up a phone,” Merz says.

Merz says the commission should now establish a strategic plan to focus its priorities. The commission is technically set to expire in 2019 and commissioners sought the evaluation.

Chair Chief Justice Loretta Rush says in tackling child welfare issues, there’s a wide pool to narrow down.

“Drug-exposed babies, mental health issues, the substance abuse crisis, the increasing number of children in foster care, the need for adoptive homes, parental substance abuse,” Rush says.

Rush says at its next meeting, the commission will identify which areas it will target, a process she says will involve being able to track measurable outcomes and progress.

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