After operating for four years without a full-time leader, Indiana’s children’s commission finally has an executive director.
The Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana was established in 2013, but has never had a person whose entire job was dedicated to the commission.
Julie Whitman leaves the Indiana Youth Institute to become the executive director of the commission.
At the Youth Institute she lead data efforts, including the Kids Count data book for Indiana. Previous to her time at the Youth Institute, Whitman worked for National Center for Victims of Crime.
“The main thing will be coming up with some concrete actions that the various branches and agencies of government can do together that they couldn’t do alone,” Whitman says.
The commission makes recommendations on pending legislation that affect children and helps child welfare organizations work together. For example, the commission created a smartphone app to help parents gather medical, school, court, police, and child welfare documents. The app also helps state agencies share information with one another.
Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem) is the current chair of the commission. She says the creation of the executive director position allows the commission to continue their work for children in the state.
“It really was necessary to bring in an executive director who can do the day-to-day,” Houchin says.
Whitman says it’s important to be familiar with agencies and organizations working for children across the entire state.
“It’s really critical that this state-level commission have leadership that’s familiar with the whole state, that is able to travel the whole state, and that all of our children are valued and cared for,” Whitman says.
The position attracted more than 100 applicants. Houchin says Whitman is the perfect person for the job.
“Her experience, in conjunction with her education, and her commitment and work that she’s already done as a task force chairman – we know that she’s dedicated to the cause, just as we are,” Houchin says.
Whitman has a masters in social work from Boston College.