An Indiana High Court Justice – Passionate About Keeping Kids Safe
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Indiana's newest Supreme Court Justice, Loretta Rush, has a long history on the bench in Tippecanoe County of taking action to make the lives of Hoosier kids better. In the 1980s and 1990s when she would get a "Child In Need of Services" case, it was because of a filthy house, Rush said.
"I'd love to have a filthy house case now," she said. "Now you have methamphetamine going on in the home, some untreated mental health issues, violence. With turns in the economy, I see the effect it has on kids with regard to being exposed to domestic violence."
Pointing to horrific cases involving Hoosier children in the last few years, Rush said that is why the legislature is working to create the Commission on the Status of Children. It will have members from each branch of government and from many agencies that are responsible for protecting at-risk children.
Part of the task for the new commission is to facilitate better coordination and communication between entities like the Department of Child Services, police and the courts, she explained.
"A lot of these children touch a lot of different agencies and systems before the tragedy and trauma happens," she said. "How can those systems work better together to protect children that are being harmed?"
The Supreme Court Justice said many young families struggle with economic and social pressures - putting the children more at risk.
"There's an increase in substance abuse, increase in prescription pill abuse and poverty rates, and in the amount of the stressors that are in a single-family home," she said.
Rush noted it is common to find kids with meth or marijuana in their system because of their exposure at home or in the car. She said the commission will study trends involving vulnerable children and work to educate the public about how best to keep young people safe.
Rush was appointed to Indiana's high court by Gov. Mitch Daniels last fall.