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Friday, September 19, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "Indiana settles DCS adoption suit for $15 million"; What about Domestic violence budget cuts?

The ILB has a number of earlier posts under the heading "1,400 Indiana families sue Indiana DCS for unpaid subsidies." This post from Aug. 14, quoting a FWJG editorial, gives a good overview. It ends:

Still unclear is whether parents who adopted in good faith but have been waiting for years while struggling to help their adopted children deal with chronic illnesses, inherited drug addictions, or physical or emotional abuse will get significant retroactive payments from the state.
Late yesterday, Tom LoBianco of the AP reported:
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Child Services announced Thursday it has reached a settlement with adoptive families who alleged the state had reneged on promised payments.

The state will pay $15.1 million to about 1,800 families who adopted special needs children. The settlement was filed in LaPorte Superior Court on Thursday afternoon and still needs court approval.

The settlement follows shortly after Gov. Mike Pence announced last month that the state would resume paying subsidies to the adoptive families.

The state took over adoption subsidies in 2009 from the counties but did not continue the practice of paying additional aid for families who adopted special needs children, which ultimately led to the lawsuit. The settlement covers payments dating back to 2009. * * *

Irwin Levin, the Indianapolis lawyer who filed the suit, said in a statement that the deal "will help adoptive families provide for the physical and emotional needs of the children. We're very happy the Governor and Director Bonaventura were cooperative and agreed to get the adoptive families the help they need."

Virginia Black of the South Bend Tribune has a comprehensive story here.

ILB: The domestic violence budget cuts issue (see ILB post here) was also briefly in the news yesterday, with an IndyStar reporter initially tweeting: "BREAKING: Anti-domestic violence group says state has agreed to restore funding it had planned to withhold," but an hour later tweeting "The governor's office is now saying there is no agreement with anti-domestic violence group on funding. I'm trying to sort this out."

TomLoBianco of the AP reported late yesterday:

INDIANAPOLIS – An advocate for victims of domestic violence said her group reached agreement Thursday with Indiana officials over funding for the private agencies serving them, but a state official denied there was a deal.

Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence director Laura Berry said that her group has reached a deal with the state that avoids about $1 million in cuts that had been planned.

The issue was poised to boil over Friday at a meeting of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute's board of trustees. But Barry said the deal calls for a separate meeting in two weeks where all of the $3.5 million allocated by lawmakers will be approved by state officials.

Advocates have said the administration of Gov. Mike Pence had been poised to cut roughly $160,000 in funding and place a hold on another roughly $826,000 in aid for 53 domestic violence shelters around the state.

Spokesman Gary Abell of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, which administers the funding, disputed Berry's contention.

"Nothing has changed," Abell said Thursday evening. He said the funding was still up for discussion at Friday's meeting.

Abell also said no further meetings were planned.

Earlier in the day, he had said there was never a plan to cut any funding and added that the $826,000 was only being held until shelters could show how they planned to use the money.

The fight over state funding for domestic violence cropped up amid the national debate over the NFL player Ray Rice's suspension for domestic abuse. It also stems from budget constraints in Indiana, which many Democrats and social services advocates say have been artificially created by Republicans.

Pence has continued a practice of cutting agency budgets at the start of each year to maintain the state's significant cash reserves. The state has maintained a $2 billion cash savings, even as tax collections have fallen off.

Pence's budget director told other members of the State Budget Committee last month that state agencies were already preparing for cuts again this year unless tax collections improve.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 19, 2014 07:33 AM
Posted to Indiana Government