Indiana adoptive families will soon get payments under $15 million court settlement

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INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly 2,000 Indiana families who adopted special needs children will soon receive shares of a $15.1 million settlement of allegations that the state reneged on promised payments.

LaPorte resident Debra Moss had sued the Indiana Department of Child Services in June, claiming the agency failed to pay promised adoption subsidies while returning roughly $240 million to state coffers since 2009. State officials announced in August that the subsidies for children with special needs would be funded for the current fiscal year, which started July 1.

Lawyers for the adoptive families and DCS then reached an agreement in September to make lump-sum retroactive payments to about 1,800 families who had been on the adoption subsidy wait list from 2009 through June 30, 2014.

Lynn Toops, an attorney with law firm Cohen and Malad who represents those families, said the payments in the settlement should be mailed to families within the next few days, giving them additional financial support.

"We're very excited about this positive result and very excited the checks will be going out right around Christmas time," Toops told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1vadCox ).

She said the average retroactive payment will be about $5,000. About 400 families will receive a check for more than $10,000, with the largest of those checks totaling more than $25,000.

Toops said many families will receive multiple checks, one for each adoptive child. She said many adoptive families also will receive ongoing financial support from the state.

To date, 673 families have signed up and are receiving monthly payments for their adoptive children with special needs. DCS spokesman James Wide said about 250 other families haven't returned paperwork that will help the state know whether they are eligible for such funds.

DCS officials have asked Indiana lawmakers to allow them to continue to fund those subsidies through 2017.

West Lafayette resident Mike Northacker, who with his wife, Maureen, adopted their three grandchildren in late 2011, said the subsidies will help them pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance and for the youngsters' other needs.

"The subsidies are very important because raising a child is more expensive than it's ever been," he said. "We want to help these kids in their time of need."


Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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