Merrillville Town Council President Carol Miano said she is pursuing a new town ordinance that would require group homes to be registered. There are two main issues to resolve here.
The first is that Miano is concerned about reports of suspected neglect and abuse at group homes elsewhere.
We're concerned, too, but we also understand the Indiana Department of Child Services and the Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services are tasked with oversight of group homes.
If those agencies need help from the local police, they'll ask for it. Otherwise, what could the town police force — already overtaxed — do to address potential abuse and neglect at group homes?
Miano wants to verify whether people running group homes are licensed caregivers and to seek reassurance that residents are receiving adequate care. But again, that's the state's job.
Miano also wants a placard to be placed in front of group homes, easily identifying them as such.
A placard would alert first responders to any special conditions of a group home, as compared with a single-family residence.
But all this information could be done with E-911, avoiding the stigma of having a "group home" placard in front of the home.
"We should let them stay anonymous," Councilman Richard Hardaway said. He's right.
A placard like that could lead to embarrassment and possibly ridicule or harassment for residents and caregivers. Put a note in the E-911 database, not a sign in the yard.
Having the information in the database in case of a fire or other emergency is a fair reason to request notice of group homes, along with information about single-family homes that could affect emergency responses.
But let the Indiana Department of Child Services and the Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services, which are already tasked with oversight of group homes, handle oversight issues.
Merrillville doesn't need to oversee group homes.