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Indiana Foster Families Call on Governor, DCS For Help With Child Care Costs

Foster parents do not receive daycare or child payments. They are expected to use their per diem, which a new DCS reports says is "insufficient".

INDIANAPOLIS -- Foster families who care for abused and neglected children are calling on the state to step up its efforts to help them cover the cost of childcare.

They’re asking the governor and the Indiana Department of Child Services to allocate money and resources to help them with the rising cost of child care, something many are forced to cover out of their own pockets. 

The Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group released a six-month investigation this week about Indiana DCS that shows foster parents receive insufficient funding to help cover the necessary costs of child care that would allow them to work while also raising foster children. 

“Foster parents do not receive daycare/childcare payments,” read the report. “They are expected to use their per diem which is largely insufficient.”

Kristi Cundiff, a former foster parent who runs a home for older youth, says she shared her concerns about child care with the working group.

“When they are receiving a per diem of $20-$25 per day on an infant and they spend $30 a day on child care, that's a problem,” said Cundiff.  “Foster parents are still expected to work, and many of them have to quit their jobs.”

Cundiff also serves as the founder and CEO of the Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents Resources and Advocacy Group and represents more than 7,000 people.

“While child care was briefly touched on in the report, there were no answers into the child care funding,” Cundiff said.  

On Wednesday, Cundiff attended the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana to find out what they’re going to do about it.

The Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group provided a summary of their report to the commission, but the commission did not take any action Wednesday.

“We found there were a lot of people waiting for child care,” said Sue Steib, a spokeswoman with the group. “It was a big expense for their families to be able to provide that on their own. We talked with a  lot of foster families and many of them have stopped fostering, or were considering not fostering because of not having the child care they needed.”

The report found 530 Hoosier foster families on the waiting list for CCDF federal vouchers, that would help offset th

“There are more families that need child care,” Cundiff said. “It’s very disheartening. I think foster parents deserve an equal voice at the table along with everyone else, and that's something they don't have right now."

This week, the governor vowed to pour $25 million into fixing DCS including raises for family case managers.

"What the governor could do today to help the foster families is to designate some money into a child care fund and they would be more appreciated," Cundiff said.

Less than half of the Commission on Improving the Status of Children members attended Wednesday’s meeting.

Cundiff said it’s time for foster families to have a place on the commission, and she will be pushing for that.

"We're not prepared to wait another 6 months or another year to see the action start," Cundiff said.

Call 6 Investigates asked DCS if they’re going to put money toward foster families.

“Our director and the governor will be working together to set the priorities for the $25 million,” said DCS spokeswoman Noelle Russell. “It is too early to say exactly how those funds will be divided, but we will certainly be transparent about their use once that is determined."

(Photo by anyanberkut/Thinkstock.)

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