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Adoptive families get more financial help starting July 1

Families receive a state per diem to help offset costs for things like food and clothing.
Foster Care
Posted at 11:21 AM, Jun 19, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS— Adoptive families in Indiana will soon get more financial help in caring for children from the state’s child welfare system.

In a letter to foster parents and kinship caregivers sent on June 18, the Indiana Department of Child Services director Eric Miler, said effective July 1, DCS will increase subsidy amounts.

Families who provide a home through adoption or eligible guardianships to a child in Indiana’s foster care system will receive financial supports equal to 100 percent of the amount the child received while in foster care, according to DCS.

“DCS is raising the floor for adoption and guardian subsidies to 100 percent of the FCMP per diem,” said Miller in his letter to families. “With these changes, caretakers across the state will be equipped more than ever to provide for the needs of Hoosier children. This will also eliminate the need for most negotiations, helping children achieve permanency sooner.”

The change does not impact the foster care per diem rate.

The subsidies are for provided to families who adopt or finalize legal guardianships – so it’s once a child has exited foster care and moved into a permanent status via adoption or guardianship, a DCS spokesperson told WRTV.

WRTV reported last year that DCS records show 1,700 children in our state have been in foster care for more than three years.

Foster parents have been pushing for years to help Indiana families who want to adopt a child in need.

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Kristi Cundiff, a former foster parent and CEO and Founder of the Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents Resources and Advocacy (IFAP), said this decision is a major game changer for foster and adoptive parents.

"I feel like with this law being passed, and taking effect on July 1, it respects the foster parents it respects the child, it holds that family unit intact. So that is going from foster parents and adoptive parents, they can continue to meet the needs the ordinary and special needs of that child," said Cundiff. "They've not always respected them for the work that they've done. And I feel like foster parents have not been appreciated. As and they've not, they've just ignored them. For the most part, they're not glorified babysitters."

Currently, families receive at least 50 percent of the amount the child was entitled to while in foster care and may negotiate higher amounts based on the individual circumstances of the child and family, according to DCS.

“With the change to 100 percent, caretakers across the state will be equipped more than ever to provide for the needs of Hoosier children,” DCS said in a statement. “This step will also eliminate the need for most financial negotiations and help remove a barrier that can delay permanency for children.”

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Each year, 2,000 Indiana children find permanent homes through adoption and more than 1,000 others find permanency through guardianship, according to the state agency.

DCS says this is one of several changes they’ve made to remove barriers for Indiana children in the state’s child welfare system.

In July 2023, DCS implemented a kinship stipend program to support unlicensed kinship caregivers.

“These individuals can be a relative, godparent, stepparent or another person with whom the child has a close personal connection,” DCS said in a statement. “More than half of all Indiana children in foster care are currently placed in kinship care. As of the end of May, DCS has issued more than $10.1 million in stipends, benefiting more than 4,000 children in unlicensed kinship placements.”

Foster Success is encouraged by the announcement.

Supportive and appropriate permanency solutions are the goal for everyone working with families and youth impacted by foster care. Foster Success believes that the financial increases in the DCS Indiana Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) and Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) are one step to helping young people find permanency more quickly.

 

However, there are still nearly 500 young people turning 18 in foster care in Indiana every year without a permanent connection through adoption or guardianship, so we can't assume that this increase alone will improve the outcomes for all of Indiana's foster youth.

 
Maggie Stevens, Ed.D., President & CEO