Here in Indiana, over 9,000 children are currently in the foster care system waiting for adoptive families. Part of this crisis is due to the failing efforts of our state’s adoption subsidy program. This is why State Senator David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) authored Senate Bill (SB) 398 — to help Hoosier adoptive children and families. Unfortunately, this proposal was never given a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
When Michelle Hurley came to testify in the Senate Family and Children Services Committee, she shared her experience as a foster and adoptive mother. Her child has medical, therapeutic and academic needs. The family received $42 from the child’s foster care per diem. As an adoptive parent, DCS offered her family $1 a day, despite her child’s unchanging needs.
Kristi Cunduff testified, sharing that she fostered and adopted a son with special needs. DCS was not providing adequate funding to her family, and she had no other option than to turn to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to file a lawsuit on her behalf.
She also shared that she knows of several foster parents that are turning to adopt children from other states because they feel abandoned by Indiana.
Grant Kirsh shared that as an adoption attorney, he has seen some great adoption stories, but some bad ones as well. He claimed that when it comes to negotiating with DCS, families may either take the per diem offered or appeal the offer with DCS and ultimately lose out on the ability to adopt the child. He shared that this reality has a severe effect on the children in foster care, as well as the families who carry the financial burden.
We at the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus, believe that families should not go bankrupt caring for the child they love. We believe that a true adoption subsidy program is necessary to promote permanency for vulnerable children. And most of all, we believe that DCS needs to give necessary funding to all adoptive families with special needs children.
Have you adopted or fostered a child in Indiana? Do you struggle to provide your child with the tools he or she needs to succeed? Do you have a second job in order to support your family?
Let us know.
Email your experiences to [email protected] and allow us to tell the story of families in Indiana.
We thank you for everything you do as foster or adoptive families. We intend to use these stories to show the General Assembly that adoptive families need more support.