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Settlement reached on foster care rates

December 8, 2010

The Indiana Department of Child Services has agreed not to cut subsidies for foster and adoptive parents and other caregivers as part of a class-action settlement in federal court.

Though it hasn’t received final court approval in the Southern District of Indiana, the Nov. 19 agreement between the state agency and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana would make permanent a preliminary order issued by U.S. Judge Sarah Evans Barker in January. That order barred DCS from imposing a 10 percent cut in the maximum $25 per day subsidy that parents and guardians receive for foster kids and some special needs adoptive children. DCS had proposed the reduction late last year after Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered state agencies to slash their budgets because of revenue shortfalls, but two federal lawsuits that were later combined alleged the cuts violated parts of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 670, et seq.

The case is C.H., et al. v. James W. Payne, No. 1:10-CV-381. This proposed settlement stipulates that DCS isn’t admitting any violation and does not concede on the merits, but that both parties want to reach a settlement.

This proposed settlement allows DCS to come up with a new formula for calculating the daily rate for children in foster care by the end of 2010, but that does not preclude foster parents from challenging the new rates when they’re determined, according to a class notice attached to the proposed settlement. The proposal also provides that DCS will pay about $104,812 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

Once the class members receive notice, Judge Barker will likely consider the proposed settlement in January.•

Rehearing "Cuts trigger two lawsuits" IL Jan. 6-19, 2010

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