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Keeping siblings, families together

Friday, January 18th, 2019

At the start of the new year, lawmakers returned to the Statehouse to begin working on critical issues impacting Hoosiers. I’m excited about many of the topics being discussed, but my top priority continues to be helping children in the foster care system. We should be doing everything in our power to protect children in foster homes and take every step to limit potential trauma during this transition.

Over the last several years, I talked with families, children and organizations from across the state to find ways to improve Indiana’s foster care system and adoption process. Last year, I authored a law increasing accountability and transparency during the fostering and adoption processes. To build off that progress, this year I authored legislation to ensure siblings are kept together and placed with available family members when possible. 

This is an issue close to my heart because as a young child, I was placed in a group home after my birth father, who frequently abused my mother, siblings and me, forced my mother to leave with him at gun point. Until my mother was able to escape and return home, I stayed in the group home. To this day, I still remember how frightened I was during that time. Because of my background, I am working hard to prevent children from having similar experiences.

Right now, the Indiana Department of Child Services works to place children with relatives or other custodial parents whenever possible; however, brothers and sisters can still be separated when a single home does not have enough room to take in every child. Under my proposal, DCS would work with juvenile courts to make every effort to place children in a relative’s home, while also considering placing a child in a home their brother or sister is already staying in. If this is not possible, a child would then be placed in the care of a foster parent. By taking these additional steps, we can help ensure a child’s needs are met and limit additional distress.   

This effort could go a long way in making a child feel safe and secure during an unknown and difficult situation. In many cases when brothers and sisters are separated in the foster care system and later adopted, they often lose contact with each other. Limiting the emotional distress can increase the chances of a successful placement in a foster home, and siblings who are placed in a home together often have a higher likelihood of being adopted together. Strong family ties are vital to the well-being of a child.    

This is just one of many important bills being considered to help Hoosier foster children. I will continue working diligently to help children find a safe and loving place to call home. To track bills as they move through the process and watch hearings online, visit iga.in.gov. Please share any input with me on issues impacting the state by emailing me at h58@iga.in.gov or calling 317-234-3827, and sign up to receive my regular e-newsletter updates at in.gov/h58

Reps. Burton, Young return to Statehouse for Organization Day

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

State Reps. Woody Burton (R-Whiteland) and John Young (R-Franklin) joined fellow legislators at the Statehouse on Tuesday for the Indiana General Assembly’s Organization Day.

Organization Day marks the ceremonial start to the 2019 legislative session. It occurs annually in November, providing state lawmakers time to gather together, meet new members and prepare for the upcoming legislative session. Following the general election this month, all re-elected members and member-elects were sworn into office.

“With the legislative session officially underway, lawmakers can focus on drafting legislation to keep Indiana on the right track,” Young said. “In 2019, we will be crafting an honestly balanced state budget and keeping schools safe, while still living within our means.”

Members of the House of Representatives are partnering with the Indiana Division of The Salvation Army to increase awareness about childhood hunger. Advocacy groups report nearly half of all food-insecure households in Indiana have children living there, and 33 percent of those being served at Hoosier food banks are under the age of 18. House legislators are collecting non-perishable food items for school children who face a period of hunger between the free lunch they receive in school on Friday and the free breakfast they receive in school on Monday.

“For 1 in 5 kids, not having a nutritious meal on the weekend is a heartbreaking reality,” Burton said. “While schools work diligently to fill the need during the week, there is still more to be done outside the cafeteria. Throughout the next several months, lawmakers, staff and visitors will be able to donate non-perishable food to help keep young Hoosiers healthy so they can focus on being a kid.”

The 2019 legislative session begins Jan. 3 and by law must conclude by April 29.

 

Constituents who want to stay informed about the General Assembly and members of the House of Representatives can sign up to receive legislative email updates at www.indianahouserepublicans.com.

State Rep. Woody Burton (R-Whiteland) represents House District 58,

which includes a portion of Johnson County.

 

State Rep. John Young (R-Franklin) represents House District 47,

which includes portions of Johnson and Morgan counties.

Moving Indiana forward  

Friday, January 19th, 2018

As your state representative, it has always been my priority to keep you informed about what is happening at the Statehouse and to listen to what you believe needs to be done for our community. One way I do this is by hosting town halls throughout the year. I recently held two town hall meetings to hear from you and share my legislative priorities. Thank you to all the people who attended. We were able to discuss the current legislative session and address top issues.

During the town halls, several community members brought up redistricting and asked if I support an independent redistricting commission. Every 10 years, with updated census information, the Indiana General Assembly is tasked with drawing congressional and state legislative districts. The next time we analyze our maps will be after the 2020 census. At this time, I support an independent commission that will ensure greater transparency during our redistricting process.

This year, since we won’t be considering a biennial budget, the General Assembly will only be meeting for 10 weeks. During this short time, House Republicans will be focused on addressing K-12 funding, strengthening Indiana’s workforce, attacking the opioid epidemic and increasing government efficiency.

Each year, Indiana spends $7 billion on K-12 education. While crafting our budget, we base school funding on calculated estimates of student enrollment. Due to a higher than expected increase in the number of students attending traditional public schools, we will boost funding for K-12 education to ensure students, educators and schools have the tools needed to be successful.

Indiana currently spends $1 billion on 30 different workforce programs across nine state agencies. Even with an unemployment rate below the national average, employers are still struggling to find qualified workers to fill high-demand, high-wage jobs. This session, House Republicans are re-evaluating workforce-related programs and working to better connect Career and Technical Education students with local employers.

Over the last few years, addiction has scarred communities across the state and has left devastating effects on many Hoosiers. As the fight against the opioid epidemic in Indiana continues, I will support efforts to expand opioid treatment programs, as well as provide licensure flexibility for mental health professionals. Under proposed legislation, up to nine new opioid treatment centers could be opened, which would greatly improve access to addiction treatment programs throughout the state, ensuring Hoosiers have options to begin and sustain their recovery processes.

Last year, U.S. News and World Report ranked Indiana No. 1 in state government. To continue pushing for even greater government efficiency, House Republicans will consider efforts to further reduce government bureaucracy, streamline local and state government reporting requirements and consolidate townships that have a population of less than 1,200. These measures could enable local governments to achieve greater cost savings for their constituencies while preserving the same level of service and accountability.

Ensuring that Hoosier children have a safe and loving place to call home is an issue near and dear to my heart. I am eagerly awaiting the findings of a top-to-bottom audit of the Department of Child Services by a highly-respected national firm. These results should be available this spring. In the meantime, I have introduced legislation that would make Indiana’s adoption and foster care systems more efficient and transparent.

To keep up with legislation being considered in committee or in the House and Senate chambers, visit iga.in.gov. I encourage you to subscribe to my weekly e-newsletter at www.in.gov/h58. Please contact me anytime to share your thoughts on state issues or if there is any way I can help you and your family. You can email me at h58@iga.in.gov or call 317-232-9648.

Supporting Foster Care Children

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017
Thank you to all the volunteers who helped passed out fire hats and walked in the Greenwood Freedom Festival parade. We couldn’t have done it without Cheryl Clemens and family and Beth Boyce – Johnson County Republican Chairwoman. They helped coordinate all of our volunteers while I was out of town. I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day.