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Child Welfare Commission: State Needs A Strategic Plan For Its Kids

Jim Grey

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 on Improving the Status of Children 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," Merz says. "They have relationships where they can pick up a phone.”

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

Rush cites “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 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.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.