State boosting adoption support for foster, guardian families

Starting in July, Indiana families providing a permanent home to a child in the state’s foster care system will now get 100% of the financial support the child received while in foster care, the Indiana Department of Child Services announced in a press release.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” said John Nickoll, the program director of Advocates for Children in Columbus.

This assistance looks different from the 50% figure families are currently receiving, with adjustments and negotiations based on individual circumstances. The new number will allow families to meet the needs of the child, get rid of the need for negotiations, and facilitate permanency, according to DCS.

“I would say that it’s a validation for the amount of love and care that they (foster and guardian families) are putting forth,” said Nickoll, who sees the policy as a way to help get rid of finances being a barrier in finding permanent placements for children.

The funding draws from the Indiana Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) and Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP).

“By making assistance more readily available, we are creating more opportunities for Hoosier children to find their forever home and better supporting the families who make that happen,” DCS Director Eric Miller said in a press release announcing the change.

This new policy accompanies the July 2023 kinship stipend program, which provides support to unlicensed kinship caregivers. These individuals can be a relative, godparent, stepparent or another person with whom the child has a close personal connection. According to DCS, more than half of Indiana children in foster care are in kinship care.