Mothers Of Lost Children – Indiana

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New Ombudsman: Will Susan Hoppe Really Look Out for Indiana’s Children?

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We’ll have to see if this will really improves the situation for Indiana’s children, or it is another case of the fox guarding the hen house…

Ombudsman to shed light on child welfare

Tim Evans

November 14, 2009 by Tim Evans | Star staff

Appointee says she has no agenda other than to improve the system

An Indianapolis woman with 25 years of experience in the field of child welfare — from the front lines to policy consulting — will be the state’s first child services ombudsman.

Gov. Mitch Daniels announced the appointment of Susan Hoppe to the post Friday. She will begin her job Dec. 14.

“I have no agenda,” Hoppe said, “except to improve the system and certainly improve the public’s confidence in the Department of Child Services.

“I am going into this job quite open-minded. I plan to do a lot of listening, reviewing and observing.”

Hoppe said she will run the office — which has a budget of $145,000, including her $90,000 salary — as a one-person operation.

The position was created by the legislature during the special session in June.

Child and family rights activists had lobbied the past two years for the creation of an ombudsman. The calls were driven, in large part, by the deaths of several children involved with DCS and the growing number of children being removed from families by the agency, which was created by Daniels in 2005.

Backers contend an independent monitor is needed to oversee a state child welfare system that does much of its work behind a mandated veil of secrecy. Although that confidentiality requirement is intended to protect victims, it leaves unanswered many important questions about the actions of DCS — particularly in controversial or high-profile cases in which children are injured or die.

Ombudsmen in about 30 other states often review such cases and issue reports that shed light on how they were handled. That independent review can bolster public confidence in an agency’s actions or point out shortcomings that need to be addressed.

Hoppe’s experience working in several areas of child welfare and her listening skills make her an ideal person for the post, said Sharon Pierce, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana.

“Susan has a really rich background and will be a really outstanding advocate for everyone involved — children, families and the community,” said Pierce, who also heads The Villages, Indiana’s largest nonprofit children’s and family services provider.

Hoppe, 65, is a social worker with Marion County Circuit and Superior courts, where she works with families involved in custody cases, according to a release from the governor’s office. In addition, she was the courts’ representative on the county’s child protection team.

Prior to working for the courts, she held several positions with the Marion County Office of Family and Children, which handled state child welfare and protection functions before the creation of DCS. Her work included a six-year stint managing 50 employees who investigated child abuse and neglect allegations and provided services to families and children.

“We look forward to meeting with her soon to discuss ways we can work together for the benefit of Indiana children and families,” said Ann Houseworth, spokeswoman for DCS.

Hoppe earned her undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois University and has a master’s degree from Butler University. She has two grown children.


2 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Emily, Emily. Emily said: New Ombudsman: Will Susan Hoppe Really Look Out for Indiana’s Children?: We’ll have to see if this .. […]

  2. Dear Whomever: I practiced law in the military many years ago; have witnessed many custody injustices; other. You cannot find an answer to injustice in the system until you get real and take away the gender bias and have thorough investigation as to the fact as to who is the better parent to raise the children. The non-custodial parent should have the children on the week-ends and all non-school days. Search your hearts for the truth and take back your system from the federal government. Let the children decide; not the parents or courts. Wish you much needed luck, your servant, ron nerding, esq.

    ron nerding

    November 28, 2009 at 3:04 pm

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