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Friday, August 08, 2014

Ind. Courts - More on: "1,400 Indiana families sue Indiana DCS for unpaid subsidies"

Updating this ILB entry from June 3rd, which includes a link to the complaint, Marisa Kwiatkowski reports today in the Indianapolis Star:

A La Porte woman says the Indiana Department of Child Services is to blame for denying payment to her and at least 1,400 other families that have adopted special needs children from the state’s foster care system since 2009.

But in a response to the lawsuit Debra Moss has filed against the state agency, DCS shifts the blame to someone else: lawmakers. DCS says the adoption subsidies haven’t been paid because the Indiana legislature failed to appropriate enough money.

Moss’ lawsuit notes that DCS promised in a contract to pay adoption subsidies “if funding becomes available.” As evidence that those funds were available, the lawsuit points out that, since 2009, DCS has returned roughly $240 million to state coffers while not paying the subsidies. Moss’ lawsuit contends that is a violation of the families’ written contracts.

DCS acknowledged returning that amount to the state’s general fund but denied violating the families’ contracts.

“DCS can make adoption subsidy payments only if DCS determines in its discretion that sufficient funds are available in the adoption assistance account and that sufficient funds can reasonably be anticipated to be available in the account during the term of the subsidy,” the agency said in court records filed last week. “This is a condition precedent to payment that did not occur.”

Because of the pending litigation, DCS spokesman Rich Allen said he could not comment on the agency’s reason for returning money to the state’s general fund rather than using it on subsidies.

ILB: This story raises a number of questions, starting with the DCS budget specific requests for the years in question - were monies requested by DCS for the Adoption Assistance Account? Agency requests go to the State Budget Committee and the Governor and are ultimately submitted to the General Assembly as the administration budget. It is a very large and very detailed document, breaking up each agency request by account. It is of course public record.

Another point would be, after the legislature has acted, the Budget Agency distributes money for the first quarter of the new fiscal year into the various accounts of each agency. What money was allocated to the Adoption Assistance Account for each quarter of each year. Did DCS make any requests, including requests for transfers between accounts?

Finally, the complaint contains many references to papers by Christina Morrison, with links, but the website, ifcaa.org, appears to be no longer available.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 8, 2014 09:12 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts