The Indiana Department of Child Services announced Tuesday that is has reached a legal settlement with IARCCA, an Association of Children & Family Services, over rates paid to cover additional staffing costs and cost-of-living expenses to residential facilities and foster care agencies that serve abused and neglected children.
The settlement says that DCS will primarily adjust cost-of-living rates to providers and pay for additional staff per child with providers. According to a statement released by DCS, the settlement agreement provides a one-year adjustment on rates for 2013. The state estimates the adjustment will cost $15 million.
In 2009, IARCCA filed a lawsuit after DCS said it would cut rates paid to the agencies that provide foster care placements and intensive residential treatment for children who are abused or neglected, beginning in 2010.
After changes in Indiana property tax law in 2008 shifted responsibility of payments for provider services to state government from county governments, DCS realized that there was a wide range of pricing of services among providers.
DCS contracts with IARCCA’s members to provide services to children as described in Title IV-E of the Federal Social Security Act.
Since the suit was filed, IARCCA and DCS have settled other issues cited in the suit. In 2011, the two reached an agreement regarding the reimbursement rate cuts. Stephanie McFarland, spokeswoman for DCS, said that the settlement announced Tuesday stems from a 2011 filing in the original lawsuit. Now that the issue over rates paid to cover more staff and cost-of-living expenses has been settled, no issues from the 2009 suit remain.
IARCCA Executive Director Cathleen Graham said in the statement that her membership is pleased with the settlement result. She noted that further work needs to be done, and IARCCA is “equally pleased that DCS agreed to meet regularly in partnership to enhance Indiana’s child welfare system. It takes both the public and private sectors working together to truly meet the complex needs of the abused, neglected and delinquent children and their families.”
For nearly three years, DCS has been trying to implement consistent rates for providers across the state based on actual costs incurred. McFarland said DCS is on course to achieve that goal.
“Although costs vary from region to region within the state, rates are tied to actual and verifiable costs, so the range of rates is not as large as what had been the case prior to 2009,” she said. “Administrative rules have been established regarding rates, and this settlement acknowledges those rules.”
IARCCA was represented by Faegre Baker Daniels LLP; James Payne, the named defendant in the suit and former director of DCS, was represented by Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP and Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP.