ILNews

DCS sued for cuts to adoption, foster care rates

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2009
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Add foster and adoptive parents to the list of people unhappy with the Indiana Department of Child Services for making rate cuts in 2010. Some of those parents filed a class action suit Tuesday in federal court against DCS director James W. Payne in hopes of preventing the cuts.

The foster and adoptive parents are unhappy about a 10 percent cut in all current foster care rates and adoption payments beginning January 2010. The parents received a letter from DCS explaining the cuts, which were a result of analyzing current costs and a comparison of Indiana's foster care rates to those of other states. Because the maximum monthly adoption payments are required by law to be based on a percentage of the applicable foster care per diem rate, the DCS decided to reduce all monthly payments by 10 percent, according to the letter.

The suit filed in the U.S. District Court's Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, C.H., R.H., D.S., and T.S., on their own behalf and on behalf of those similarly situated, et al., v. James. W. Payne, as director of DCS, No. 1:09-CV-1574, involves four proposed classes: foster parents who receive or will receive foster care maintenance payments from DCS; children in foster care or who will be in foster care, for whom maintenance payments are made or will be made by DCS; adoptive parents who receive adoption assistance payments through DCS; and adoptive children for whom the adoption assistance payments are being made.

The proposed classes, represented by various parents and children, claim the reduction of the maintenance and assistance payments violate Title IV(E), and 42 U.S.C. sections 672(a), 673(a)(3), and 675(4). The plaintiffs argue they didn't consent to the cuts and that they were made solely because of budget concerns and without individual assessments by DCS of the families receiving the payments.

The parents and children, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, also filed a motion for class-action certification. They seek a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing Payne from reducing the payments.

This is the second suit filed this month against DCS and Payne because of cuts to rate payments. On Dec. 14, The Indiana Association of Residential Child Care Agencies filed a suit in Marion Superior Court seeking declaratory and injunctive relief because DCS is cutting reimbursement rates next year to IARCCA members who provide services to abused, neglected, and delinquent children. IARCCA is represented by Baker & Daniels in Indianapolis.
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