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ACLU sues Indiana agency over adoption subsidies

October 30, 2015

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two foster parents against the director of the Indiana Department of Child Services' Central Eligibility Unit over adoption subsidies.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday on behalf of Lyons residents David and Julie Arthur, who act as foster parents for three grandsons, the Indianapolis Star reported.

The couple claims the state agency violated federal law by calculating the adoption subsidy without considering "circumstances of the adopting parents and the needs of the child being adopted," according to court records.

The Arthurs say they want to adopt their grandsons, who are 6, 3 and 2 years old. The couple says the boys have "profound disabilities," but that they can't pay for services needed.

Medicaid covers the boys' medical needs. Their grandparents receive $145.72 per day as licensed foster parents to help offset the boys' extensive needs.

If the Arthurs adopt the boys, they would get $52 per day under the Department of Child Services' "final offer" for adoption assistance payments. The couple says it would be "impossible" to "adequately and appropriately care for the children" at that amount, according to the lawsuit.

The agency refused to provide adoption subsidies equal to what the Arthurs get as foster parents when asked by the couple. The lawsuit seeks to have a judge force the department to negotiate.

"We're not trying to get rich," David Arthur said. "It wouldn't cover our bills."

The couple says they were told by the department that its offer was "take it or leave it," and that if they refused, their grandsons would return to the system.

Department of Child Services spokesman James Wide said it hadn't received the lawsuit and couldn't comment.

The department settled another lawsuit last year involving adoption subsidies. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of families who adopted foster children with special needs, and claimed the department failed to pay promised subsidies. The state agreed to make retroactive payments and said it would pay the subsidies to the adoptive families moving forward.

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