Rep. Porter offers modest proposal for helping DCS using federal dollars
INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), ranking Democrat on the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, today issued the following statement on a way to help the troubled state Department of Child Services (DCS):
“It has been good to see that Gov. Holcomb, unlike previous governors, appears willing to implement the types of changes needed to help at-risk children across Indiana by actively working to improve DCS. His willingness to commit an extra $25 million toward such things as pay increases for DCS staff is a positive step forward.
“In that spirit of cooperation, I would like to suggest another way to help.
“In the report written by The Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, it was noted that more than 500 foster care parents are on a waiting list to receive assistance through Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) vouchers. This assistance can help them seek employment and even induce others to become foster care parents. One of The Group’s recommendations was that this waiting list be filled.
“Fortunately, there is an easy way to help.
“A little-noticed section of the federal budget passed earlier this year was a one-time $2 billion increase in funding for the CCDF program. Estimates of Indiana’s share of this funding range from $49 million, according to the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), to as much as $64 million, according to the non-profit social advocacy group Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).
“CLASP also reports that Indiana’s allotment would ensure more than 5,600 voucher slots could be filled in just one year.
“In light of The Group’s recommendation, I would suggest that the State of Indiana move quickly to use this federal funding for the 500-plus foster care parents on the waiting list.
“And since the CCDF money can be spent over more than a one-year period, I would suggest that additional CCDF funding for later years be held in escrow for these foster care parents and their families.
“In just the past couple of weeks, we have seen a spirit of harmony on this issue that is gratifying. Now is the time to work together and find real lasting solutions to fix DCS and protect at-risk children.”