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DCS to appeal injunction on rate cuts

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The Indiana Department of Child Services wants the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to review a judge's decision to temporarily stop DCS rate cuts.

The state filed its notice of appeal Thursday in C.H., et al. v. James W. Payne, 1:09-CV-1574, in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. The state is appealing District Judge Sarah Evans Barker's Jan. 20 decision to grant a preliminary injunction preventing DCS from cutting reimbursement rates for adoptive and foster parents and child care agencies.

Both the parents and the Indiana Association of Residential Child Care Agencies sued DCS in December after learning of cuts to reimbursement rates paid by DCS to those parties. The suits were consolidated into one, C.H. v. Payne. The combined suit represents more than 100 agencies statewide and has been certified as a class action for foster and adoptive parents throughout Indiana.

Judge Barker said in her 38-page order that much more than money is at issue in the case.

"It is the quality of care promised to the children under the applicable statutes that is at stake in the case at bar," she wrote. "Any deficiency in such care cannot later be undone with monetary compensation."

DCS spokesperson Ann Houseworth told Indiana Lawyer in an e-mail that the decision to appeal was made after reviewing their options and concluding that the injunction places an undue restraint on the agency's ability to further improve Indiana's system of child services.

"We believe that appealing this decision will serve the best interests of all the children we serve," she said.

The state hasn't filed its brief yet, but has 40 days from Thursday to do so.

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