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Families upset state budget strips funding for adoption subsidies

Posted: 6:58 PM, Apr 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-23 18:58:47-04
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INDIANAPOLIS — Foster and adoptive families are upset Tuesday after learning the state legislature stripped funding that would have provided them with adoption subsidies.

State Senator David Niezgodski, D-South Bend, revealed the latest version of the state’s two year budget did not contain money for the subsidies.

“I am so disheartened to see that the supermajority has taken my adoption subsidy language out of the budget at the last minute,” said Niezgodski. “I have worked all session to get mandatory adoption subsidy language signed into law. Adoptive families across the state have reached out to my office underscoring the immediate need for substantial support for the special needs children they adopt.”

Kristi Cundiff, Founder/CEO/Administrator of the Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents Resources and Advocacy Group IFAAP called the decision a huge disappointment for foster children waiting to be adopted.

“The Indiana General Assembly has let the foster and adoptive children down,” said Cundiff. “The Indiana Foster And Adoptive Parents IFAAP is a group of almost 9,000 voters with influence throughout the state of Indiana. This decision will reflect poorly on Indiana and we are already the second to the last worst state in the United States on how our foster children treated.”

Cundiff, a former foster parent and advocate, said the Indiana Department of Child Services has been stiffing families who want to adopt children in need.

“They’re being told you’re going to get $1 a day, take it or leave it, and if you don’t like it we will come and find a new home for the child,” Cundiff said. “They feel like they’re being bullied.”

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She said when parents try to negotiate payments with the state, it’s a nightmare.

“Foster parents have been asked for receipts on how much they spend in church, hair cut receipts, food, imagine saving every food receipt when you go out and they're even asked to divide that up, how much do you spend eating out and how much do you spend at the grocery store,” Cundiff said. “That's pettiness."

Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend, filed Senate Bill 398 that would add a mandatory adoption subsidy to Indiana foster parents.

“This budget does not do justice for our most vulnerable children, and I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the legislature plays a larger role in the protection of these Hoosiers,” said Niezgodski.

Currently, foster parents would lose their helpful state per diem if they were to adopt their foster child, Niezgodski said.

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With his bill, DCS would have been directed to provide an adoption subsidy for children who are eligible.

“They're not doing it for the money but in some cases they can't afford it because of the ongoing needs of the children and that should not be an obstacle for those parents who are wanting to love those children," Niezgodski said in a previous interview.