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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

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

Updating this ILB post from August 8th, some quotes from a long editorial in today's Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, including quotes from State Senator John Broden, South Bend:

It wasn't an issue in Indiana until six years ago. Local judges used to decide whether adopting families were eligible for assistance and the money was paid by the counties. But when the sales tax was raised in 2008, responsibility for the subsidy program was transferred to the DCS. The federal government provides subsidies to about half the families who need them.By 2017, virtually all the subsidies to foster-adoption families will be supplied federally.

But that will be too late for more than 1,400 families that have been ruled eligible for a subsidy by the DCS since 2009. Those families are grandfathered into the state system. * * *

It's possible, [Broden] said, that the DCS looked only at particular line items rather than shifting funds to where they were needed within the department. But, Broden said, the money that was reverted by DCS could have funded the subsidy program “many times over.” A study by the state's Legislative Services Agency put the effect of funding the program at$7 million to $13 million a year, and that was a high estimate, Broden believes.

Of course, those costs are ultimately offset by the savings to the state when a foster child is adopted. Right now, families who can't afford special services and care are discouraged from adopting those kids, and the rate of adoptions has gone down.

Broden said he plans to reintroduce his bill specifically to authorize DCS to pay the subsidies when the legislature reconvenes in January.“I'm proceeding on the track as if there wasn't a lawsuit,” he said. Like many legislators, he was told fiscally related measures couldn't be dealt with during this year's short session.

“This is not a ticking time bomb” of long-term expenditures, Broden points out. “This is actually going to be a declining subsidy.” The age of children who qualify for the federal subsidy is dropping every year; by 2017, foster children 2 years old or older who enter the system will be covered. But the 1,400 people now waiting for help can only get it from the state. And they need it now.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 12, 2014 08:38 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts