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Nonprofit sues over DCS rate cuts

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A nonprofit organization made up of agencies that provide services to abused and neglected kids is suing the Indiana Department of Child Services for cutting rates paid to the agencies next year.

The Indiana Association of Residential Child Care Agencies Inc. filed suit Monday against DCS and director James W. Payne in Marion Superior Court seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.

DCS contracts with IARCCA's members to provide services to children as described in Title IV-E of the Federal Social Security Act, which include foster care placements and residential placements. About 80 members provide services that include a residential component.

According to the suit, No. 49D11-0912-PL-056480, the DCS informed residential members earlier this month that the rates for 2010 will be cut between 4 and 14 percent and no less than 20 percent for licensed child placing agencies. DCS allegedly told the licensed child placing agencies that it would transfer the children to other locations if the providers didn't sign the new contracts with the lower rates within five days of receipt.

The contracts provide for a per diem rate set by DCS, but there is no written explanation as to how these reimbursement rates are calculated.

IARCCA accuses the DCS of failing to establish any rules or method by which it sets provider reimbursement rates and that DCS arbitrarily is cutting rates paid to providers.

IARCCA says the cuts will affect the quality of the children's care, result in higher ratios of children to staff supervisors, higher caseloads for therapists, and reductions of tutoring and mentoring programs.

IARCCA wants the court to declare that DCS' setting of per diem rate payments to providers other than pursuant to promulgated rules violates Indiana Code Section 4-22 and Title IV-E. IARCCA also seeks a preliminary injunction preventing DCS from reducing its rates until it has promulgated rules governing the establishment of per diem rates, and permanent injunctive relief requiring the agency to set rates and to change rates in accordance with written standards in state and federal law. IARCCA also wants relief to prevent DCS from taking any action concerning children in the care of providers based solely on decisions about the rates to providers.

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