Leonard joins lawmakers in donating supplies for Hoosier foster families

State Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington) donates a new diaper bag filled with baby supplies for an Indiana foster family during the “Bags of Hope” event on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.
State Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington) donates a new diaper bag filled with baby supplies for an Indiana foster family during the “Bags of Hope” event on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at the Statehouse in Indianapolis. Photo provided.

State Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington) recently joined fellow House lawmakers to fill diaper bags with donated baby supplies for foster families across Indiana.

The Indiana House of Representatives partnered with the Indiana Association of Resources and Child Advocacy and its Institute for Excellence, a nonprofit organization serving more than 4,600 Hoosier children every day, to host the “Bags of Hope” event.

House lawmakers and staff held a donation drive at the Statehouse and collected over 3,800 items for foster families caring for newborns and infants, including diapers, diaper bags, wet wipes, blankets, clothes and toys. Together with IARCA, more than 100 diaper bags were filled to be distributed to local foster families.

“There is an increasing number of children in the foster care system and not enough foster parents to care for them,” Leonard said.

According to the Department of Child Services, the number of children in out-of-home care jumped from 13,811 in September 2015, to 17,214 just two years later. Leonard said much of this increase is due to the escalating opioid crisis.

“The ripple effect of the opioid epidemic is felt through all of the state’s social services programs, but especially foster care,” Leonard said. “More than half of these kids have a parent with substance abuse issues.”

Foster parents in Indiana need to be over the age of 21 and pass a criminal background check, as well as meet certain standards outlined by DCS. Foster parents do not have to be married or own a home. There are also children in foster care waiting to be adopted, and their stories can be found at www.in.gov/dcs.

IARCA serves children in foster homes, group homes and treatment facilities while working closely with DCS to improve the lives of children. Locally, Crossroad Child and Family Services is a member agency of IARCA that teaches children to value themselves and others.