Legislators and child protection officials will meet Wednesday in the first session of a legislative study committee’s look at the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Sen. Travis Holdman, a Markle Republican and co-chairman of the panel, said the meetings will include a full airing of public comments about the agency, which has come under fire from service providers, child protection advocates and local officials statewide as funding has been cut and authority centralized in Indianapolis.
Allen Superior Court Judge Charles Pratt also is a member of the committee, as is David Judkins, deputy director of field operations for DCS and a former director of Allen County’s DCS office. The panel also includes Lafayette Superior Court Judge Loretta Rush, one of three finalists for the vacancy on the Indiana Supreme Court.
One topic of inquiry will be DCS’ statewide hotline for reporting child abuse and neglect. Local officials have complained that too many calls are screened out by the hotline in an effort to cut costs. The agency returned more than $100 million in 2011 to help build the state’s surplus.
The interim study committee on economic development meets today for an update on the state’s economic development program. The criminal law and sentencing policy study committee is set to discuss the impending loss of federal funds on Thursday. Indiana’s sex offender registry is not in compliance with federal law.
The child custody and support advisory committee meets Wednesday and the health finance commission meets Thursday.
East Allen board
East Allen County Schools board of trustees meets Tuesday. A budget presentation is scheduled, along with consideration of resolutions required for construction projects at the Wood- lan and Heritage K-12 campuses.
Board members learned at their Aug. 7 meeting that low interest rates will result in savings of $2 million to $3 million for the two projects.
Back to school
The school year is in full swing, effective today. Students at Fort Wayne Community Schools, IPFW and Ivy Tech Community College all start the fall semester.
IPFW begins the school year under new leadership. Walt Branson, vice chancellor for financial affairs, is interim chancellor until Sept. 1, when Vicky Carwein, chancellor of Washington State University Tri-Cities, succeeds Michael Wartell.
Enrollment is expected to be lower at both IPFW and Ivy Tech this fall.
Public access seminar
Northeast Indiana residents, public officials and attorneys have an opportunity to learn more about Indiana’s open meetings and open records laws Thursday in Auburn. Attendees will hear from Joe Hoage, the state’s public access counselor; Matt Light from the attorney general’s office; and Steve Key, executive director of the Hoosier State Press Association.
Hoosiers can learn what information they are – and are not – entitled to see under Indiana law. Public officials will learn their responsibilities to meet publicly and make documents available to the public as well as exceptions in the law. Attorneys who attend will earn two hours of continuing legal education.
The conference at the National Military History Museum is free, but those who plan to attend are asked to make reservations. (See accompanying box.)
Noon Friday is the deadline for candidates to file for Nov. 6 school board contests. As of last Friday, there were no contested races on ballots for any of the four Allen County school districts.