As an alternative to the budget cuts, the Indiana Department of Child Services has established a new initiative called Safely Home-Families First. The program keeps children in their own home as long as possible and moves them to foster care only as a last resort.
Cathy Graham is Executive Director of the Association of Children and Family Services, an Indianapolis-based non-profit children’s advocacy group. She says timing will play a big role in finding the best service for each child.
“The health and safety of the child is the paramount concern,” Graham says. “The success of the initiative depends on whether that is the first consideration for all the children.”
DCS officials say the program falls in line with research showing children do better when they have connections with relatives.