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State doing the right thing for adoptive parents

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 12:01 am

Subsidies cost little but yield a great benefit.

It’s never too late to do the right thing.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has announced that thousands of adoptive parents will soon receive subsidy payments for their care of special needs children for the first time in five years. “Although the State Adoption Subsidy is only a small piece of the assistance the State of Indiana offers to adoptive parents, it is my belief that funding the program this fiscal year is the right thing to do,” Pence said. “At the same time, the Adoption Study Committee is now looking at this issue, and we appreciate their work to develop recommendations that address the needs of Hoosier families and effectively promote adoption.”

“The right thing” is exactly right. The parents were promised the subsidies of between $18.80 and $28 per day for each special needs child they adopted. The state should not be in the business of breaking its promises, and it certainly wouldn’t do to have that reputation.

The money was withheld despite being promised on a technicality — the General Assembly didn’t actually appropriate the money for that use. But at the same time the Department of child Services was withholding the payments, it was reverting more than $238 million it didn’t spend to the state’s general fund. The optics were not good, as the commentariat likes to say.

The subsidies aren’t just the right thing do do. they are the smart thing. Children with special needs can be hard to place, and once they are in families, the costs of meeting those needs add up. Indiana is the only state in they union - yes, the only one - not to have a formal program to provide subsidies for parents who take in such children.

And that’s a lack that should be addressed. Bills authored in 2012 and 2013 by Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend - would have mandated the state subsidies, but they never even passed out of committee. If Pence wants to encourage study and legislative action on the issue, that’s a good place to start.

There are, of course, a lot of good things the state can spend money on, and it doesn’t have the capacity to fund them all. These relatively small payments that can encourage so much good for some with the greatest need should surely make the cut.

The state finally got around to doing the right thing. Now it should keep the right thing going.