What to do? Where to go?

As the weather gets colder, many of us are looking for things to do which are inside, especially for youngsters. Thankfully, Indianapolis always has a myriad of events going on, even ones for free.
Furthermore, many cultural institutions in Indianapolis offer special discounts, programs, and opportunities to accommodate a wide variety of budgets. For example, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis offers a free one year membership to foster families. More information about this program and the application can be found here.
Other programs are also available to help make these fun learning opportunities more accessible. Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the NCAA Hall of Champions, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Terre Haute Children’s Museum, and the Indiana Historical Society all participate in the Access Pass program. This program allows families who are participating in state assistance programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), nutritional assistance programs, or Hoosier Healthwise Insurance to attend these institutions for just $1 per person per visit. More information about the Access Pass program and the application can be found here.

Other programs are also out there to provide reduced prices or even free admission. The first Thursday of every month from 4 to 8pm, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis offers free admission. The first Tuesday of each month, admission to the Eiteljorg Museum is free for children and students and only $5 for adults and seniors. The first Tuesday of every month, admission to the Indianapolis Zoo is reduced to $8 per person. Admission to the Indianapolis Museum of Art and gardens is free every day.

For a list of other events going on in Indianapolis, click here.

Inner-City Acheivement: Recognizing the Issues

Written by: Sara Smith (Americorps VISTA)

There are so many times where youth don’t feel like their needs are being met. But if we (youth working organizations) are striving everyday to “fix” or resolve these issues, why aren’t youth today vibrant and fulfilled?

I have an answer, simple as it may be…we don’t know much about the reality of youth, because we are not living their lives every day. We can say things like, “I have been there before”, or “I know what you mean”, but realistically, times have changed. What we may have looked forward to, or what we may have needed as young adults growing up is rapidly changing.

How do we find the answer?
ASK THEM! Be a friend, and not a warden. Youth don’t like when you talk at them, they love when you let them talk!

Want to know their “truth”?
Get on their “level” and try to understand what the issues are that they are facing. Too many times are we prescribing solutions that don’t attack the true problems. Let’s stop fighting a blind fight.  

Want to know the truth?
Invite your youth out to our “#WereJustSayin” event that will be held at WFYI on Novermber 16th, and let them have a voice, listen to their concerns, and find the RIGHT solution.

If you are a youth serving organization but don’t have the time to bring youth? 
Email me at [email protected], we will have special seating for organizations that wish to come out and lend an ear!

You Are One of the Smart People

Something that has really struck me in meetings since I started here at MCCOY is how different things are than I imagined. I remember reading a record review once where most of the songs were political in nature and the reviewer knocked the band for doing that because we should “leave politics up to the smart people”. At the time I thought that was a really poignant and correct statement. I mean, we’ve gotten this far as a species, surely the people involved in government and politics are doing something right…right?
The guy on the cover kind of looks like Noam Chomsky, which classifies this as a political journal…right?
            So fast-forward about 11 years from my 18 year old self reading punk rock ‘zine’s with intellectual names like “Razorcake” to 29-year-old me sitting in public policy meetings with different committees. There are a lot of smart, talented, and creative people involved in creating public policy in the state of Indiana, but sometimes I’m amazed that they did not think of something, for example, what kind of training school resource officers should go through and who can administer that training. There are a lot of good ideas out there right now that you would think were already in place like co-location, improved public transit in Indianapolis, and comprehensive bullying prevention. But sometimes they’re not, and what they need are enthusiastic voices to help get them moving. There are also some not so great ideas out there like arming teachers and banning same-sex marriage in our state. The smart people are there, and they have an idea of what needs to be done, and it’s usually a pretty good idea. But the problem with democracy is that we’re all “the smart people”. Our system is designed for the people and by the people, and it relies and participation.
            Understandably, some people do not have time to get overly active in the political process. But something I’ve really learned so far through this practicum experience is that there is no magic bus that drives around capturing smart and talented people that then drops them off at the State House where they magically make good policy that covers every potential loophole and liability. It’s what I wanted to believe, but that’s just not the case. Its people like you and I, who get involved, make our voices heard, and ensure that the laws and policies that come out of the State House are inclusive, fair, just, and sensible that can help make good policy come out of the State House. As corny as this may come off, the smart people are here, and you’re one of them.

2013 Interim Study Committee Update – 10/4/13

The following is a brief summary of the meetings as of 10/4/2013:
Commission on Improving the Status of Children
The Commission’s next meeting is on October 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and is open to public.  It will be held in the Indiana Government Center South, Conference Rooms 1 & 2.  Proposed agenda items include:
·         Crafting the mission and vision statements
·         Setting priorities for topics to be studied
·         Assessing access and availability of services to vulnerable youth
·         Infant and child mortality
·         Legislative assignments to the committee
o   Due process for child care providers
o   Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
·         Child Services Oversight Committee
Commission on Education
The Commission on Education met on September 13.  Topics included coaching education standards for football coaches concerning concussions and teacher preparation programs.  The next meeting is scheduled for October 8 at 1:00 p.m. in the Senate Chambers. (As of 10/4, the meeting agenda has not been posted on the committee’s webpage)
Committee on Child Care
The Committee on Child Care met on October 1 and reviewed several preliminary drafts of legislation.  Below is a summary:
·         PD 3088 – Specifies training requirements that must be met by a childcare provider as a condition of eligibility to receive a Federal Child Care and Development Fund voucher payment:
    • At least 1 adult must maintain CPR Certification
    • First aid certification for staff
    • Staff training for child abuse detection and prevention for all employees
    • 12 hours of continuing education credits
·         PD 3089 – Division shall establish a child care advisory committee for each of the following categories of child care:
    • Child care for homes
    • Child care centers
    • Child care ministries
·         PD 3091 – Staffing ratios for Federal Child Care voucher eligibility
    • Provider shall ensure that a child in the providers care is continually supervised by a caregiver
    • If children less than 12 months old are being cared for- complete training course on safe sleep practice and ensure caregivers follow protocol
·         PD 3092 – Applies group size requirements that apply to licensed child care homes and centers to child care providers that receive federal child care and development fund voucher payments
    • Complete safe sleep training for children 12 months old and under
    • Caregiver to child ratio similar to PD 3091
·         PD 3093 – Requires a child care provider to implement a developmentally appropriate education curriculum based on the Department of Education’s early learning guidelines as a condition of eligibility for Federal Child Care and Development Fund voucher payments
·         PD 3094 – Requires criminal history background checks for all volunteers for a school corporation
·         PD 3095 – Annual appropriations shall be made to pay for all mandated criminal background checks required under state childcare law
·         PD 3123 – Determines licensed status as the only eligibility factor for the federal child care and development fund voucher program
·         PD 3124 – Specifies requirements for federal voucher program, including, staffing, training, facilities, fire safety, and discipline
·         PD 3125 – Specifies more requirements for federal voucher eligibility including training and orientation, staff to child ratios, and requires reports in cases where children are injured or die in the facility
·         PD 3143 – Specifies requirements for voucher eligibility, including the previous training, orientation, and staff ratios, also allows for decertification under certain situations
The next meeting is scheduled for October 15 at 1:00 p.m. in room 431.  The committee will vote on the preliminary drafts.
Child Services Oversight Committee
The next meeting is October 23 at 1:00 p.m. in the Senate Chambers.
Commission on Mental Health and Addiction
The Commission on Mental Health and Addiction met on September 9 and heard testimony on the use of methadone and opioids in treatment programs and clinic settings.  The next meeting is scheduled for October 21 at 1:00 p.m.
School Safety Interim Study Committee
The School Safety Interim Study Committee met on September 24.  Testimony was heard on the use of police officers in schools, technology available to schools to protect the physical building, the importance of training on safety for all staff working in a school and how teachers should not be armed when in the classroom.  The committee voted 11-1 to accept the final report, which did not include any preliminary draft legislation.
Central Indiana Transit Study Committee
The Central Indiana Transit Study Committee met on October 3 and heard testimony from both supporters and those who oppose.  For a look at the issue of transportation, visit MCCOY’s blog post by Sara Ferriell, MSW public policy intern, at http://mccoyouth.blogspot.com/.  The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for October 31 at 9:00 a.m. in room 431.
For more information about the committees, visit the General Assembly’s website: http://www.in.gov/legislative/interim/committee/index.html

Central Indiana Transit- Let’s go places!

 Mass transit is a hot button issue these days in central Indiana. Several groups, such as Indy Connect and the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA) have been in the planning stages of increasing ease of access in central Indiana. The stumbling block occurs, however, when funding is examined. As you can imagine, changing mass transit is expensive. Building roads and rail systems are pricey, as are the buying and upkeep of buses and services. At the Transit Interim Study Committee meeting on September 10th, Senator Waltz proposed his plan for central Indiana mass transit, which would include road projects to justify the expense to tax payers who would not normally use mass transit, a reform of IndyGo, and bus rapid transit (BRT) lines. These BRT lines are being used in cities like Cleveland. For more information about their transit model, click here.

It is hard to tell if legislation will be proposed for this coming legislative session, so for the time being, let’s examine the current state of central Indiana transit. 

Click here to learn more about IndyGo’s current services. This includes fixed routes and Open Door services, which provide greater accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
Click here to learn more about CIRTA. 
This organization is working on providing transportation options to counties outside of Indianapolis.
For more information and the plans from Indy Connect, click here.
Indy Connect holds public forums and meetings and IndyGo often has public meetings to discuss changes and upcoming events. Transit and access to transportation can have a wide variety of impacts on individuals and families in central Indiana. This can coordinate with employment, retaining employment, access to healthy foods, and even access to services such as healthcare and social services. For youth, these impacts can even be compounded. 
You can follow all of these groups on Twitter and Facebook, in addition to visiting their websites.

The next study committee hearings are on October 3rd, and October 31st at 9am in room 431 at the Statehouse. This is accessible via all IndyGo downtown routes, including 2,3,10,38,&39.