Judge blocks DCS rate reductions

Keywords neglect

U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker in Indianapolis has temporarily blocked the Indiana Department of Child Services from reducing the amounts it pays to foster and adoptive parents and juvenile-service providers.

After a hearing Jan. 20 in the case of C.H., et al. v. James Payne, No. 1:09-CV-1547, Judge Barker granted a preliminary injunction against the DCS. At issue in the case, which consolidates two separate suits, is the rate setting done by DCS, which cut or froze rates anywhere from 14 to 20 percent for service providers and up to 10 percent for parents. The cuts came after the state had asked DCS to cut 10 percent from its budget.

After ruling from the bench Judge Barker issued her 38-page order Jan. 26.

"The injuries that all categories of plaintiffs stand to suffer if an injunction is not issued are significant and the type for which there is no adequate remedy at law," she wrote. "There is much more than money at issue in the case. … Plaintiffs are likely to suffer a variety of substantial harms due to the rate cuts."

The preliminary injunction restrains DCS from reducing or altering the reimbursement rate to any licensed child-care placing agency or residential placement provider below the DCS rates paid on Aug. 1, 2009, and below the rates on Dec. 31, 2009, for the parents. The order also prevents DCS taking any action to circumvent the order, such as transferring a child to a less expensive placement or reclassifying a child to a less expensive rate. The injunction remains in place until decided differently on appeal or Judge Barker issues a further order.

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