The rate of Indiana children in foster care is more than double the national average. It’s one of the issues identified by an independent investigation of the state’s embattled child welfare agency.
Advocates hope upcoming policy changes will aid the foster care system.
The state this year will develop what it’s calling a “foster parent bill of rights.” Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents and Resources Advocacy Group CEO Kristi Cundiff says the statement of rights will help establish expectations for both parents and the Department of Child Services. A key expectation of the latter, she says, should be communication from DCS workers to foster parents.
“Inform them of when there’s going to be a family team meeting and invite the foster parent to that meeting,” Cundiff says.
The legislature also increased the maximum number of children allowed in a foster home from five to six. Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington), who authored the bill, says it’s a small, but meaningful step.
“You know, hopefully it’ll provide some help both to keep families together and to provide the services needed,” Zay says.
The state's cap used to be eight before a 2011 law lowered it to five. Zay says if the new increase works well, the cap could be raised again in coming years.