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Firm says DCS misled parents on foster adoption subsidies

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The Indiana Department of Child Services misled parents adopting foster children by falsely claiming the agency lacked resources to provide subsidies while it returned hundreds of millions of dollars to the state, according to the Indianapolis law firm pursuing a class-action suit against DCS.

The agency “admitted they had returned nearly $240 million to the state” while representing to parents no funding was available for subsidies to adopt special-needs foster children, said Cohen & Malad LLP attorney Lynn Toops. She said DCS also admitted adoptions in the state have declined dramatically since 2009, when the state ceased providing the subsidies.

Rich Allen, assistant communications director for DCS, said in an email, “because this is pending litigation, I’m not able to comment.”

Typical subsidies are $19 a day or less per child, negotiated between DCS and parents based on income and other factors.

Toops said the firm estimates DCS owes parents denied subsidies more than $50 million. The suit was filed in June on behalf of 1,400 Hoosier families, and lead plaintiff Debra Moss of LaPorte likened DCS to deadbeat parents.

The situation is creating a hardship for parents, Toops said, and making Indiana a notable outlier in state support for children most in need.

“Indiana has in recent years been very concerned about having a good fiscal picture, having a good surplus,” she said. “By trying to save a buck and not paying these adoption subsidies, it’s actually costing money in the long run.”

The firm cites research by Notre Dame University economist Kasey Buckles showing a sharp reduction in adoptions – from roughly 30 per 100,000 children in 2008 when subsidies were being paid to about 5 per 100,000 children in 2011. Toops said the adoption rate has since declined even further.

Buckles’ research concludes that each adoption of a child from foster care saves the state $200,000 in public benefits.

Josh Kroll, adoption subsidy resource center coordinator for the North American Council on Adoptable Children, said Indiana has a dubious distinction. “It’s the only state that is saying they have insufficient funds for kids that they find eligible and is putting them on a waiting list.”

Gov. Mike Pence last month announced Indiana ended fiscal year 2014 with an operating surplus of $106 million and reserves of $2 billion.
 

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  1. 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.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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