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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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