Gavel Gamut: by Judge Jim Redwine
Society’s building block is the family. To preserve our society one of our government’s primary missions is to help families maintain their welfare and independence. Sometimes this requires our government to intervene in a family’s life. If such action becomes necessary by the Posey County Department of Family and Children, there are strict laws that protect the family from arbitrary action. The constitutions of the United States and each state as well as federal and state legislation and court decisions make family unity the touchstone of Department intervention. If possible, considering the safety and welfare of children, the goal is to maintain the family unit.
One of the concerned and caring Department workers who performs these vital services for Posey County, and one who was somehow displaced from last week’s article, is Davita Hubbard. Davita and the rest of our Posey County Department of Family and Children seek to aid families, not to disrupt them. The primary purpose is to ensure, if it can be done without harm to children, that a family has the opportunity to make its own choices. Our government realizes we are a better and happier society if we can maintain family autonomy. To aid families in need to do this the Department offers many reasonable services. Of course, budgets are shrinking and resources are scarce so there are limits to what the Department can do. But Davita and her co-workers work hard to deliver the services they have available. And just as when she was cheering for my son’s football team, it seems like only yesterday, Davita and her co-workers encourage families to succeed.
Some families are impacted by drug dependency both legal and illegal. Regular drug testing can help a parent break the cycle of drug abuse. Another frequent need is parenting skills. Being a parent is usually an on-the-job training project and many of us can benefit from parenting aid. Help with personal hygiene and housekeeping are other common areas where the department can assist a family. Recognition of medical problems both physical and mental and referrals to professionals sometimes arise. And, transportation and educational assistance are common problems.
These and many other daily services are provided by the Department, but they are not provided in a vacuum. There is federal and state oversight of how reasonable and effective these services are and the manner in which they are delivered. And the Department must seek court approval of its intervention in a family’s life. There are strict guidelines and timelines that must be followed.
Unfortunately, even with the Department’s best efforts there are situations which services cannot cure. Sometimes parents’ rights must give way to children’s safety and welfare. As a last resort the Department may ask the court to permanently sever family unity. Such difficult decisions will occupy us next week.