Bill seeking better system for children

South Bend Tribune

If you follow but a handful of bills during the current session of the General Assembly, Senate Bill 364 should be one of them.

The legislation, written by state Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend, takes a necessary step toward making the state’s child protection system more open and accountable to the public.

Most significantly, the bill defines “near-fatality” in children. Currently, Indiana law provides for records to be released — minus certain identifying information — in a child’s “fatality or near-fatality,” but it doesn’t describe what a near-fatality is.

For its part, the Department of Child Services’ policy defines a near-fatality with such references as a child being on a ventilator or a condition “certified” as critical or serious.

Broden’s bill, which was sent to the Family and Children Services Committee, would include the definition of a near-fatality as “a severe childhood injury or condition that results in a child receiving critical care for at least 24 hours following the child’s admission to a critical care unit.” In a recent Tribune story, he explained that the language might be adjusted or further defined in the bill’s hearing stage.

Indiana’s child protection system cries out for more transparency and accountability. Senate Bill 364 is a welcome attempt to address this problem. And if the well-being of the most vulnerable Hoosiers isn’t a priority this session, then shame on Indiana.

This editorial was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to