LAPORTE, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana woman sued the Indiana Department of Child Services on Monday for promised subsidies to help her raise three grandsons that she adopted out of foster care.
The lawsuit, filed in LaPorte County by Debbie Moss of LaPorte, seeks class-action status for 1,400 families on a waiting list for money meant to help them raise adopted children. A judge has to approve the case before it becomes a class action.
Moss’ attorney, Richard Shevitz, said DCS negotiates adoption rates with many families who qualified for them and signed contracts, but later told the families they would be placed on a waiting list until the money was available. Shevitz said at the same time, DCS was returning nearly $240 million to state coffers between 2009 and 2013.
“This is obviously something that has real consequences for real people,” Shevitz said during a news conference, the South Bend Tribune reports.
Former DCS Director James Payne removed adoption subsidy money from the agency’s budget in January 2009 at a time when former Gov. Mitch Daniels was requiring agencies to return some of their allocated funds so Indiana could balance its books.
DCS spokesman James Wide said the agency has no comment on the lawsuit.
Nonpayment of the subsidies amounts to a breach of the contracts DCS signed with the adoptive parents, Shevitz said.
After Moss adopted her three grandsons in July 2012, she would have been due about $40,000 in payments based on the daily payments she had negotiated with DCS, Shevitz said.
One of Moss’ daughters, the mother of the boys, had lost her parental rights because of abuse she had not protected them from. Moss had acted as a foster parent to the boys before adopting them.
As a foster parent, Moss had been reimbursed $25 per day per child. After she adopted the boys, Moss and the state negotiated a rate of $18.88 a day.