Saving the Children's Guardian Home

Dateline: Mon 29 Jun 2009

I've never quite understood why Jim Payne, the former juvenile judge and now head of children's services for the state, has had such a bee in his bonnet re: the old Guardian Home in Irvington on the Eastside.

For years, it was rumorred that Payne wanted to shut it down, even though there were never any complaints about the services it offered or its staff. His idea apparently was to send children in need of services -- those removed quickly from potentially abusive or neglectful settings -- to foster care.

Then came an order to close the home, which was followed shortly by the realization that there are not enough resources out there to fill the need. The order was reversed.

Now City-County Councilman Ben Hunter, a Republican who represents the Eastside, where the Guardian Home is located, will introduce a proposal today at the City-County Council meeting to keep the old home in operation, with its longtime head, Rose Butler, still at the helm.

Hunter is a former Indianapolis Police Department officer, and in my experience, cops were some of the bigger boosters of the home; they apparently saw its positive effects up close and personal. At the urging of a detective years ago, I finally visited the home and did a small amount of volunteer work there -- speaking at a carreer day event.

The children were wonderful: filled with questions, interested, and obviously in good hands. I was even more impressed with the staff.

Anyhow, here's the message from Councilman Hunter, sent in an email today:


"Subject: Guardian's Home in Irvington

"Media Release:
Councilor to amend fiscal ordinance to create "re-use Authority" to keep Guardian's Home in operation

"For immediate release
June 29, 2009

"Councilor Benjamin Hunter (R), District 21, will attempt to amend proposal 208-2009 on Monday June 29, 2009 on the floor of the City-County Council to create a re-use authority to address future use of the Guardian's Home.

"'The Guardian's Home in Irvington has been a proven model assisting children for decades. To outright close this facility would be a loss to our community,' stated Councilor Hunter.

"The amended proposal will establish a re-use authority while keeping the current director on staff to lead this effort. The current model of operations has become unsustainable due to recent changes in funding and policy from the Indiana Department of Child Services.

"The County Commissioner's recently reversed their decision to close this facility.

"'There is a need for quality care for the most vulnerable part of our society who can't take care of themselves. Irvington has embraced the Guardian's Home along with many not-for-profits and other groups,' stated Councilor Hunter.

"The re-use authority will explore a smaller model, possibly a twenty-five bed facility, and private-public partnerships to keep the Guardian's Home in operation.

"Mayor Ballard's administration has made a verbal commitment to support this amended proposal and allow the current director, Rose Butler and a part-time assistant to stay on staff. Both will work from the current facility as the re-use authority will explore options and possible new models for emergency care for children in need.

City-County Council Meeting
200 E. Washington Street"
Council Chambers
(Public comment allowed)"





Tell The Truth [Member] said:

They're closing the facility, Ruth, because it's ongoing operation is cost-prohibitive.

But your question re: Judge Payne, is timely and fair. He carries a grudge for years ata time. Clearly, the troubles at the Juvy Faciility over at 25th/Keystone, stem from a long-time abuse of the system. Long-time, as in: started while he was there.

I knew a guard there (Juvy) who was encouraged to take advantage of the youngsters. He sought my counsel, because he was clearly torn up by the conflict. I told him to march straight into Payne's office and lay out the allegations. He did.

Nothing happened to the upservisor who suggested the abuses; my friend was forced out. He's actually glad, because he said the bad dreams kept him awake.

You do the math. Payne is a self-indulgent jerk. Who paid for his own going-away party, which no one wanted to attend, with county funds.

2009-06-29 09:46:59

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