Indiana's Department of Child Services works to create laws and regulations that shield children from cruelty, mistreatment, and neglect. Rules and regulations established and administered through the department cover a broad spectrum of areas including family and childcare worker situations. All people who come in contact with children are required to adhere to the state's various child protection laws. Recognition that what happens to children today will impact future generations keeps Indiana state officials focused on insuring that each child has a supportive home, community, and environment in which to thrive.
Residents who work with the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) and whose jobs bring them in contact with children are required to receive a criminal and civil background investigation. Agencies and databases that workers must successfully pass a background investigation with include the National Fingerprint Based Criminal History Background Check, Child Protective Services organizations throughout the United States, Sex and Violent Offender databases, and Local Law Enforcement (LEA) agencies.
Custodial parents must prove paternity when they apply to receive child support from the child's non-custodial parent. County prosecutor offices and Child Support Division representatives can have a court order request sent to the child's father to order that he submit to a paternity test. Fathers can also sign a paternity affidavit to prove paternity. Non-custodial parents who are delinquent in paying child support can have their wages garnished. They can also have their state and federal income tax returns intercepted by the Indiana Child Protection Services until they become current in their child support payments.
Leaving Children Home Alone
Indiana law requires that youth under 18 years of age be supervised. Parents are permitted to use good judgment including taking the child's maturity level and environment into consideration before they leave a child under 18 years of age home alone. Should parents or legal guardians leave the child in the care of a sibling, neighbor or other adult, the parent or legal guardian still remains ultimately responsible for what happens to the child until the child reaches 18 years of age.
Members of the Indiana Child and Family Team (CFT) work to locate the best alternative living arrangement for abused or neglected children. Children can be assigned to reside in a licensed foster care home, an institution, or a court-approved agency. Abused or neglected children are also permitted to live with a non-abusive relative or a mature adult who is close to the child's family. Initial foster care stays last for 24-hours. Children remain in the home until the biological parent becomes able to adequately care for the child. Should this not result, the child can be placed in foster care permanently.
Reporting Abuse or Neglect
People who report instances of child abuse or neglect in Indiana can do so anonymously. The neglect or abuse does not have to be proven. The person who filed the report of abuse or neglect will be free from all civil and criminal liability if they report the abuse or neglect in good faith or in a spirit of honesty.