"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"

"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"
aka "Miss Victory"

Thursday, January 29, 2009

False claims made by Indiana Department of Health about the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Children’s Home

The Curious Case of Indiana Soliders & Sailors Children's Home Closing
HFFT notices that FEMA, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Corrections are all eying the property for their purposes. No matter who takes over the facility, the taxpayers will foot the bill for renovations.

The federal government is continuing on its mission to build 1000's of detention camps across the country. Who do they intend to put in these camps? Could that be the real reason to close the school?

The organizers of the operation to save the Children's Home tell us that the press and Indiana officials are not presenting the case without bias and are keeping the following facts from the public domain. HFFT frowns on public officials who don't tell us the whole story. Please forward this information around to your lists. --HFFT

FACTS below were prepared by Ryan Liedtky

1: No clear mission statement as “at risk youth” is undefined.FACT: The United States Department of Justice uses the term “At risk youth” to refer to those individuals who are in troubled situations and are likely to commit a crime, or who have already committed a crime, and has an entire task force dedicated strictly to “at risk youths”. One must wonder why the term “at risk youth” is accepted only when it is used by a government agency, and not when it is used by an agency of which the government wishes to dispose.

2. Institution is little more than parental care support outside of the classroom.
FACT: These are children who lack parental guidance at home. Outside the classroom, they need parental care support that they are unable to get anywhere else.

3. The state is providing direct care that is already available through local communities.
FACT: The state has taken away the resources of the local communities, with House Bill 1001, preventing them from having the resources necessary to help these children. The state took over all child care services starting January 1, 2009, so there is no longer any community based care available.

4. Does not follow correct model and trend of education and support in local communities where support can be gathered by neighbors and parents and local charities.
FACT: As any psychologist can tell you, there is no such thing as a correct trend. Trends come and go, they work in some instances, and fail in others. The system is always on the mend. Further, the very reason these children are in this home is because local charities don’t have the resources, the parents are absent, abusive, in the military, etc., and/or the neighbors are unable, unwilling, or simply not trustworthy enough to help care for the children.

5. Little or no data on children after they leave the home.
FACT: 56 children have graduated from the home in the last 4 years. Prior to coming to the home:25 were failing the ISTEP test in their old school, 13 passed at their old school, 19 had never taken the ISTEP test at their old school.

Since graduation: 11 have not gone on to higher education at this time but have gone to work, etc., 45 did go on to higher education. Of those 45: 3 went to vocational school, 13 went to a 4-year college, 17 went to a 2-year college, 13 went into the military.

6. Operationally insufficient.
FACT: A staff to student ratio of 1.4:1 is about the right staff to student ratio given the circumstances that have lead these children here. However, if the Department of Health hadn’t stopped sending children to the Home starting the instant Daniels came to office, this statistic would be closer to 3:1, or higher.

7. Fiscally inefficient.
FACT: It costs $249.88 per day per child. If placed in a juvenile detention center, the cost would be over $300 per day per child.

8. Costs $200 million to modernize facilities.
FACT: The Department of Corrections, Department of Homeland Security, and FEMA have all shown interest in taking over the facility once the school is closed. The $200 million renovations will occur no matter what, all at taxpayer expense.

Also, the Department of Health stated that the school is not feasible because of its geographic location, which has no bearing on the issue. It could be a feeder school if the state had run its contacts properly. The state did not request any staff members to be involved in helping to find a college to align with. The reasons given for not merging with non-profit organizations is lame at best, insulting at worst. It supposes those who read the memo are not familiar with non-profits, and throws in a legislative code issue at the end to cover the fact that the other explanations are faulty.

Further, a change in the mission of the school was explored, but the state determined it could not be done without being inefficient, ineffective, and redundant. Curiosity plagues me: how much time was spent thinking of a new mission? Also, what does the mission have to do with the operation of the school? I have been to a lot of schools, and not one has a mission that impacts in any way the operation. A change in mission does not equate a change in anything else.

The recommendation is to send these students to community based school corporations. In other words, the very schools they failed in previously; the very situations from which they had to be rescued.

After reading through the Indiana Department of Health’s explanation, and finding no sufficient explanation for closing the school, it becomes clear with FEMA, the DOC, and the Department of Homeland Security all involved that the intent is to close the school to give special privilege to another government entity. Essentially, there will be no cost savings involved.

The Economic Aspect of ISSCH Closing
by Ryan Liedtky

Each state has its share of questionable politicians. For those of us in Indiana, it appears that government has become more of a problem since Mitch Daniels was elected Governor in 2004. Starting with the auctioning of the Toll Rode to a foreign company, which is still causing problems with EMS and police, especially relating to traffic accidents, injuries, or icy road conditions, and has moved on to other issues, including Day Light Savings Time, where different counties find themselves in different time zones.

Now, Mitch Daniels and the Department of Health are looking at closing the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Children’s Home in Knightstown. A list of reasons was given, including a $200 million renovation that is needed. What is not mentioned in the papers declaring the home shall be closed are that the United States Department of Homeland Security is using the home for weekly meetings, that the Department of Corrections is hoping to take over the facility after the school is closed to create a new prison, that FEMA looked into possible future use for the facility, and that the Department of Homeland Security has been making “donations” for the purpose of repairing pipes and making minor renovations.

When the explanation given by the Department of Health is read, it becomes clear that the $200 million renovations will take place no matter what, as the facility will have to be renovated if a new purpose for the facility is found. The renovation will cost more if it is turned over to the Department of Corrections, or to any other government agency.

As a Libertarian, I have been encouraged to look strictly at the monetary aspects of this situation. After doing so, however, it is clear that the money budgeted for the home ($10 million per year) is negligible, and will be spent for another purpose regardless. When Mitch Daniels “sold” the Toll Rode, he did so to balance the budget, ignoring the long-term loss of revenue as a result. In this situation, he is closing the children’s home for a short-term budget cut to secure his own legacy as a sound economic governor, ignoring the long-term negative effects that will result from removing the children for the purpose of giving yet another big-government agency a new facility in which to operate.

While I understand that many people will not agree with my assessment of this situation, I feel I must stand by my conclusion based upon my own investigation. The investigation I have launched has included talks with the Department of Homeland Security, and with Gov. Mitch Daniels’ office. I have also had the privilege of communicating with many former students and residents of the home, as well as many current employees of the home. As a result, I have run some calculations that reveal the closure of the home will cost taxpayers an extra $3 million per year.

My calculations were forwarded, in full detail (with each item listed and backed by court and government documents to verify the costs), to the Indiana Branch of the American Legion for verification purposes. The American Legion has donated millions of dollars to the home to help keep operating costs low, and was not contacted by the Department of Health in its investigation to determine whether there was a non-profit privately funded option for the Children’s Home.

Social Aspects

While the economic factors all lead to the conclusion that keeping the home open is the most intelligent solution, the social aspects offer an even stronger indicator of the importance of the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Children’s Home.

Dr. Judy Monroe, Commission with the Department of Health, issued a letter stating that the home is a problem because good people are working in an outdated system. She acknowledges that the home has been instrumental in helping thousands of children over the years, keeping them out of gangs, taking them from broken and abusive homes, and helping children who could not be helped by the community schools. Yet her solution is that since the system is broken, the solution is to send these children back to the very communities that were unable to help these children in the first place.

The home is large enough to house up to 1000 children at a time, but has not been run at full capacity since Daniels has taken office. As a result, more children are being placed in foster homes, as families get split up in an effort to keep the children within their local communities.

In numerous letters I have received from former students at the home, one resonating theme is constant: the home kept brothers and sisters together while the foster system was splitting them up. The social aspects of keeping siblings together are evident in the criminal justice system. Children split from their siblings and placed in foster care are more than twice as likely to become juvenile offenders, and violent offenders as adults.

Further, while the ISTEP scores are low for these students, many of them never took standardized tests prior to being placed at the Home, and yet out of the last 56 students to graduate from the home, only 11 have not gone on to secondary education. These results are more than three times better than the average inner-city public school, where only 50% of students graduate high school.

All of this results in less crime, more social responsibility, and over the course of several years less of a burden on the criminal justice system, on victims of criminal behavior, and on taxpayers responsible for footing the bill for the prison system and court costs. This creates a more safe, more free, and less expensive living conditions for all of society.

I feel I must now remind readers that the elimination of this home without the examination of the long-term economic and social effects is the work of Gov. Mitch Daniels, the same man so noted for cutting budgets, and yet even though he cut budgets still managed to turn a $236 billion national surplus into a $400 billion deficit. It would appear this is just another of his judgment moves to cut budgets that end up creating more government spending than less, all while causing more social problems and, much like George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” policy, leaves children in a position far worse than they had just years prior.

Saving the Home

I am no fool, however. I realize that my position to keep the Children’s Home open runs contrary to the opinions of the majority of Libertarians. However, if we are truly serious about addressing the issues that plague our nation, and our state, we must be willing to work within the given reality and to make concessions so that we can accomplish our goal to put us back on a path toward personal sovereignty.

It is a reality that the facilities at the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Children’s Home will remain under the control of the government. Working within that fact, we find that we can still influence what our government does with it. We must make the concession that the $200 million renovation project will be undertaken regardless of whether the children stay in the home or not. The only question left is do we keep the facility in use for the children, where we individuals currently hold sway over the government, or do we allow the government to move the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Corrections in, and we lose whatever voice we have?

The question has been posed to me, why would Mitch Daniels want to do this? I am afraid that I cannot answer this question. What I do know is that Mitch Daniels has been more concerned with money than he has been with the social aspects of education. For example, he has stated that the more money spent in the classroom (as opposed to administration within schools), the better test scores and graduation rates. This was disproven, as schools with more money per dollar spent in the classroom do not correlate with higher test scores or graduation rates. With the Iraq War his focus was on economics, and he stated that the war would cost the United States no more than $50-$60 billion by completion, though the war has now cost well over $400 billion.

The biggest problem with Mitch Daniels is his assumption that economic budgets put on paper are not dependent upon social aspects and the varying entities and circumstances surrounding those budgets. Thus, he fails to notice the positive impact on the whole of society from a social perspective (by keeping the Home open), which then corresponds to a positive impact on the whole of society from an economic perspective (through keeping children out of the prison system, which costs $100 more per day per person than the Home costs).

In my discussions with individuals concerning this home, a common theme has appeared in perceptions of the Libertarian Party: that we care strictly about money. I feel that we would be no better than the failed administrations that have attempted to implement Reaganomics with no success if we continued to live up to that perception. The underlying solution to some economic problems is through social aspects, just as the underlying solutions to some social problems are through economic aspects.

Without this understanding we cannot fully address those issues which inspire certain individuals to resort to crime; nor can we accomplish the objective of forging a more responsible society. Ignoring the social impact of this home is a continuation of the social agenda by “conservatives” who have lost all sense of what it means to be conservative: a failed attempt to replace the human condition with simple mathematic principles. Until humans become robotic, economics must not be the determining factor of all we seek to accomplish. We must remember that there are two aspects to a free society, one economic, the other social.

When dealing with children, who do not have the capacity yet to form a voice, to vote, or to serve the nation, we must ensure that we as a society (if we wish to continue to be free, not only from the tyranny of government, but from the tyranny of crime against our property and persons as well) take those children in and give them an opportunity to succeed. We also hold a duty to these children to see that they remain within their family element as much as possible, by keeping siblings together.

When society as a whole takes an extra responsibility towards our children, we grant freedom to those enduring strife at home with no voice, no choice, and no hope. When we talk about social responsibility, there is none greater than that which is the cause of children; our freedoms have been granted us by the struggles of our parents. When we are void of parents, we are void of freedom. And this home is, for these children, Freedom.


Bobbi said...


We cannot begin to thank you enough for the time and consideration you have taken to support us. They say you rarely win against the Government; but, we are optimistic this time around. Thank you for your support. Hopefully, the opportunity replace tears with smiles of those children fearing what will happen to them if the Home closes will be the true reward! God bless you!

Homie said...

Believe in Miracles!
Nearly 150 years ago, in the middle of beautiful central Indiana farm country, there was a place well-known to the Native American People and the early settlers in the area called The Knightstown Springs. The site had been frequented since antiquity for its' many mineral-water springs and clean country air - far removed from the dirty, crime-ridden, and smoke-filled cities of that time. The property, with just a few scattered buildings, was purchased by The State of Indiana as an ideal location for a Veterans Home to house the many destitute Union Civil War veterans, and the children of those veterans - many orphaned by wartime - that were filling up the urban areas and putting great financial strain on local governments. Keeping them all away from temptation was also mentioned as a consideration - even then. It was decided that those veterans who could, would work the fertile fields surrounding the newly-established Home to help defray some of the cost of their care. The children from the beginning had their work as well, and were taught life-skills, and trades, so that they would become good productive citizens, and not perpetual burdens on society when they finally left their Home. When a fire destroyed the veterans' quarters, the veterans were transferred to a Federal facility in another State - leaving the several hundred children and their caregivers as the sole occupants of the Home. And then, a Miracle happened! At that desperate time, a Moral Imperative took root in the form of The Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphan's Home, as it was first called. From that time forward, the People of Indiana pledged to care for their needy children in perpetuity. In the face of violent extremes of weather, frequent epidemics, two World Wars and other military conflicts, and many hard economic times - some much worse than now, the Home never failed; in fact, it thrived, with an average population in the hundreds! Whenever the need became greater, the Home was enlarged - not closed - because the support of the people never waived. That was, and still is, an investment we can never afford not to make. The People of Indiana have always risen up to throw their protective and nurturing arms around their children - no matter what came! Even the Great Depression, that brought the entire World to its' knees, could not destroy Indiana's commitment and dedication to its' children - its' Future. At one point during my time at the Home (1939-1950), there were over 1,000 children living, learning, and thriving there - much to the benefit of our total society. Over the years, just this one Home for at-risk children has produced; Doctors, Lawyers, Movie Stars, Journalists, Military and Religious Leaders, Professional Sports Figures - and thousands of well-adjusted, productive, and good everyday people. Of the large number of Home Alumni that have served our Country in wartime, many did not return - giving the last full measure of devotion defending ideals instilled in them during their childhood days. Now, once again, this is a time to double, triple, or even quadruple the size of this magnificent facility, and prepare it to take in as many of the thousands of floundering Indiana children of this generation as possible. With Problem Agencies all over the State coming under intense scrutiny and the cost-cutting ax, The Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's Home remains, as it has since its' formation, the one bright, shinning example of the State and People of Indiana showing, over and over again, that they know in their innate wisdom how to Get it Right! Many of my fellow- Alumni have already detailed their own time spent at the Home, and I concur with each one. The Home Alumni Site has over 1,000 members. You may have noticed that the common threads that run through our narratives are Security, Opportunity, Hope, and Service.
JCL '50

Addendum: The State of Indiana (The Indiana State Board of Health) wants to cease funding and shut down this remarkable facility, but not for health reasons; they refer to it, not as a Home and School, but as "just brick and mortar". The plan is to turn it instead into a correctional facility, and send its' current residents back to the neighborhoods and schools they were rescued from. Please go with a video crew and document it while you still can. Film the beautiful campus, soak up its' aura, feel its' history, and talk to the Staff and Students there. You may help the thousands of Knightown Home Supporters to keep this vital residential school open; or, at least, create a permanent record that it ever existed at all. Thank you.

The following comments were originally posted by me on the Home Alumni Site, and since they may have a slight "edginess" to them, they are included here solely as additional background information:

"Random thoughts on the Closing Dilemma.
There is a lot of misinformation being bandied about by the people who want to shut down the Home.
1. The size of the Home keeps being referred to as 50 acres - implying there is no more room for expansion. The last time I checked on a State database - which, by the way, has now been taken down, the Home property was listed at well over 400 acres, with room to expand in every direction.
2. The oft-quoted cost of caring for each child in the Home is $91,000 yearly; I wonder what the cost of the three-year study was? A few years ago, the per capita cost of caring for The Home Children was only a few dollars a day. They can't be serious; You could send each child to medical School for $91,000 a year! If they want to do something that shows fiscal logic, just put the $91,000 a year into an interest-bearing account for each child, teach them how to manage that money on their own before they leave, or have an executor of the trust approve any withdrawals for a set period of time.
3. I noticed that the spokesperson for the State Board of Health - during an attempt to belittle the scholastic achievements of the Home students - used such poor english herself, that it could have been corrected by any Middle-School child.
4. My last thought (for now) on this subject is so very disturbing that I hate to even mention it. In the rush to shut down the Home, those who want to make that happen are completely ignoring some obvious issues that will come back to haunt (and cost) them, and should make their misguided plan a non-starter - despite an alleged three-year study. What will they do with the Home Cemetery? Isn't it, after all, a Federally-Protected Military Burial Ground - not to mention the many Home children who are buried there? Will convicts join them now to desecrate this sacred site, or will they just plow it all under and pretend it was never there. The cost, alone, of adequately maintaining or re-locating the cemetery and its' many occupants would be staggering, and possibly violate Federal Law!"

"Every few years, it seems, someone tries to make a political name for themself by changing the direction and purpose of the Home - often without ever seeing the Home. In each instance, the public has risen up to demand, in no uncertain terms, that the Home is brought back to the reality of what it is, and why it exists. Hopefully, the current crises will turn out to be just another attempt by elite thinkers to alter the usually-tranquil atmosphere at the Home, and the students can get back to the serious business of preparing themselves for their future; wasn't that the idea from the beginning? Those who want to do social engineering should maybe try video games as an outlet for their rule-the-world mentality."

"When the OSSCH at Xenia, Ohio closed a few years ago, the property was finally sold to a Church organization to be used as a Divinity School. As an olive-branch gesture to deflect public criticism (separation of Church and State issues, I would guess), the new owners sat aside a day for Alumni to have their traditional annual Homecoming. In addition, a building on the grounds was put at the use of the Alumni as a permanent Office and Museum. It may sound tempting, but don't take the olive-branch - if offered. I doubt we could ever go back later to revisit this issue, so keep fighting for adequate funding now, and realistic record-keeping and accountability in the future."

"I just received an email from Dr. Judith A. Monroe, State Health Commissioner. Someone must have forwarded her something I had written re: the Home closing. I can't forward her entire email; there is a confidentiality notice attached to it. In essence, though, she basically reiterated her incalcitrant position on the Home closing issue.

Throughout the early years of the Home, The Superintendent filed an annual report directly to the Governor of Indiana. That seemed to be what the Legislature, which provided the funding for the Home, wanted, and it seemed to work well; everyone who needed to be, stayed informed and up-to-date on the operation of the Home. "The Model" (if that is the term Dr. Monroe used) never broke or needed radical attention, as it was fine-tuned on a regular basis by those involved and informed in the Home's operation and needs.

About 50 years ago, for some strange reason, it was decided to place the Home under the control of the Indiana State Board of Health and have the Home's Superintendent file his annual report to the State Board of Health's Commissioner. The State Board of Health's own website states that their mission is to oversee the overall health of the state's population. Why someone thought that qualified them to do a better job of raising children and operating institutions than those who, for the most part, have dedicated their lives to doing just that, totally escapes me!

When the State Board of Health was given control of the Home, it became their responsibility to keep the Home's "model" viable, and have a hands-on approach to the operation of this noble institution. After 50 years, it is they who have failed, and have now chosen to just walk away from the whole problem.

The affairs of the operation and funding of the Home should be put back in the hands of the Governor and Legislature of Indiana, and their appointed and accountable Home Committees. A Liaison or full committee member should always be appointed from the ranks of the Home Alumni Association, which would assure at least one knowledgeable and non-political vote.

I would remind Dr. Monroe and her peers of their Hippocratic oaths (paraphrased): "If you're going to try to fix something - first, do no harm! "

renee said...

Thank you so much for all you have done. I hope we can still make this a success to all the children. God bless you.

Homie said...

The Hon. Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., Governor of the State of Indiana, Indiana House Leader Rep. Patrick Bauer, Indiana Senate Leader Sen. David Long, all other Representatives and Senators of the Indiana General Assembly, and all concerned and interested Citizens of The State of Indiana.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of the following:

If it becomes the irrevocable will of the State of Indiana and its' elected Officials to cease funding and operation of the historic State Institution known as the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's Home, located in Rush County near the town of Knightstown, please concurrently declare the small land parcel known as The Home Camp property, located in far-eastern Hancock County - detached, and some distance from the Home proper - to be surplus State-owned property, and deed said property and improvements to the Home's Alumni Association for the sum of $1.00, so that the Alumni Association and its' many members may continue to perpetuate the noble and still-valid principles and ideals both the Children's Home and its' Alumni Association were founded on. By taking possession of, possibly, the last vestige of the beloved Home of their youth, the Home Alumni will also continue to have, without infringement on the Main Home Campus, a familiar and inviting place at which to conduct regular Alumni Meetings, annual Homecoming Events, and other suitable activities and traditions that are consistent with, and beneficial to, the stated purpose of the Home's Alumni Association and its' many supporters - now, and for the foreseeable future.

Homie said...

Thank you.


Homie said...

Proposed addendum to Home Camp Petition:

If The State of Indiana will save $10 Million per year (their figures) by closing the Home, but destroy the normal and logical congregation site for Alumni and Legion activities in the process, then the Home Camp Petition is a more than reasonable request, and deserves maximum support from all sides. Further, if this parcel of land were to be deeded jointly to The Home Alumni Association and the American Legion, Department of Indiana, it would go a long way to assuage the hurt feelings of all those involved in the vitriolic Home-closing dispute. If we do, in fact, lose access to the actual "brick and mortor" we all love and feel a need to gravitate to periodically - at least the principles on which the Home was established will come away still-valid and untarnished by this whole sordid affair.