The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 26 authored by Sen. Bohacek on representation of caregivers in CHINS cases. The bill provides that a familial caregiver (other than the child’s parent) is entitled to representation by counsel in a child in need of services (CHINS) proceeding under certain circumstances. The Public Defender Council and the Public Defender Commission are neutral on the bill. Judge Kenton Kiracofe testified on behalf of the Indiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and raised the following issues for the committee’s consideration:
- Funding of court-appointed counsel occurs at the county level and this legislation will likely pose a substantial cost to counties
- Counties are already struggling to meet existing public defender demand.
- Placements (foster/relative/kinship) are typically not parties to the CHINS case.
The bill was amended to remove the definition of familial caregiver and remove familial caregiver from the list of persons entitled to representation by counsel in CHINS proceedings. The amendment provides that an unlicensed caregiver is entitled to be represented by counsel in a CHINS proceeding if the court determines that the unlicensed caregiver is indigent. The amended bill passed 10-0 and was recommitted to Senate Appropriations.
Read the bill at: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2023/bills/senate/26