Proposed bill would give a voice to Indiana foster parents

Proposed bill would impact Indiana foster parents. // WSBT 22

Imagine not being allowed access to your child's mental or physical health records.

That's what Indiana foster parents deal with on a daily basis.

A proposed bill would allow them to make decisions and have access to more information about the children they care for.

This bill will go before lawmakers in January.

The Bill of Rights would change the way foster parents advocate for their children.

Overall many agree this bill may improve the foster system in the state.

WSBT 22 spoke to a local foster parent about the changes that could be coming this summer.

"We hear from parents all across the state who say they're being silenced. And it really shouldn't be that way,” said Jill Rippy, foster mother on the leadership team of Indiana Adoptive Parents.

Indiana lawmakers will soon be decided whether foster parents should have more rights when it comes to taking care of their children.

Senator Jon Ford said he's pushing the Bill of Rights after hearing first hand from foster parents across the state.

"We really listened to their issues and their concerns. It became very clear to me that DCS and foster care parents the relationships weren't very good," said Ford.

Ford says he wanted to help bridge the gap between the foster parents and those working in the foster system.

That's why he created a Bill of Rights that would give foster parents a chance to make decisions on their own.

"Foster care parent being allowed to know the medical history or mental illness history. To know some of the background of the child," said Ford.

Rippy has been fostering for eight years and is a team leader with Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents.

Rippy says this Bill of Rights is needed.

"For foster parents to actually have someone ask their opinion, to actually be able to speak to the judges to be able to feel like someone is listening to them and what they are saying is valid. That's a big deal to us. There was a long time foster parents really haven't had that much of a voice," said Rippy.

Rippy said she's also hoping this Bill will allow others to be heard as well.

"To make sure that DCS is being supported. To make sure that our FCMs are supported. Our case managers they are gold," said Rippy.

Foster parents also believe this Bill of Rights would have a huge positive impact on the children in the foster care.

Ford says the bill will be introduced when they return to session in January.

If passed the law would go into effect on July 1.

You can contact your lawmakers to show support for this bill.

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