Beginning in 2012, the compensation offered to the vast majority of foster care parents in Indiana will be cut. The government hopes to offset these cuts by providing higher allowances paid by the state.
In 2009, the Indiana Department of Child Services tried to cut the per diem payments for foster care parents from $25 to $22.50. The American Civil Liberties Union sued, claiming the cut was arbitrary, and DCS settled the case, agreeing to use a new methodology to determine the rates.
After a roughly year-long study by the Ball State Center for Business and Economic Research, DCS Director James Payne announced the new rates Friday. Beginning January first, the per diems will be based on the age of the child and his or her level of need. Most foster children will fall under the standard foster care rate, meaning parents will be given an average of a little more than $20 a day.
Payne says to offset the reduction in rate for most foster parents, DCS will institute new or increased allowances.
“There will be personal allowances,” he said, “of up to $300 for things like band or sports activities, for the prom, so that children can have and engage in activities and be ‘normal children.’”
Currently, personal allowances do not exceed $100. There will also be initial clothing allowances of up to $200, travel reimbursement and special occasion allowances of $50 paid on the child’s birthday and during the December holidays.
Placement of Foster Children
In addition to new daily per diem rates for foster care parents, the DCS announced Friday it will change the way it places kids in foster homes.
DCS will now use an assessment tool called CANS – Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths. The CANS method helps determine the best environment for a child in the foster care system and what level of care they will require.
“We too often placed children based upon, ‘Is there a bed available,’ rather than, ‘What are the true needs of this child,’ and matching the needs of that child to the foster home,” Payne said.
The CANS tool will also help determine the daily per diem pay given to foster parents. Under the new rate system, there are four levels – standard Foster Care, Foster Care with services, Therapeutic Foster Care and Therapeutic Plus.
The per diems increase with each level. How much the parents get is determined by the physical, emotional and supervision needs of the child. Payne says the vast majority of foster children will be at the standard rate.