Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 23, 2013

State panel suggests letting Ind. children's center remain open

The Associated Press
Kokomo Tribune

---- — EVANSVILLE (AP) — A state panel that evaluated Evansville’s two state-run hospitals has recommended the children’s center remain open, drawing praise from a lawmaker who worked to prevent its closure.

The Council on Evansville State Hospitals reviewed both the Evansville Psychiatric Children’s Center and the Evansville State Hospital for adults, but focused on the need for the children’s center.

Although southern Indiana residents use the children’s center the most, mental health centers around Indiana refer patients there.

The council’s recent report states no one who appeared before the panel “thought that closing the facility was in the best interest of children, families or our state’s system of care.”

The children’s center was threatened with closure in 2009 and 2010 during Indiana’s budget crisis. State Sen. Vaneta Becker, who helped lead a drive in those years to keep the center open, praised the council’s findings.

“I think the recommendations are on target. It’s a great facility and really needed,” Becker, R-Evansville, told the Evansville Courier & Press.

Becker, who said the center needs increased financial support, hopes the new report “will help to make that case.”

Any action by the General Assembly will have to wait, however, because the deadline for filing bill drafts for the upcoming legislative session was Dec. 13 and work on the next state budget will not begin until 2015, she said.

The council’s report will be reviewed by the Indiana Commission on Mental Health and Addiction, Becker said.

“There needs to be an opportunity for the Legislature and the administration to review it,” she said.