Families file suit against DCS over unpaid adoption subsidies

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A group of parents says the state of Indiana owes millions of dollars to adopted children with special needs.

A class action lawsuit represents more than 1,400 families against the Department of Child Services.

Debra Moss adopted three foster boys, brothers who all have special needs.

"They all have medical needs. They all have ADHD, they all have special needs," Moss said.

Moss relies on food banks and thrift stores, because she lives on social security. She has not received the adoption subsidy promised in a contract when she adopted the boys out of DCS foster care.

"I was told the adoption subsidy would be there when I adopted them. But yet, I was put on a waiting list back in 2012 and we're still on that list," Moss said.

She's not alone.

According to the class action lawsuit, the state owed $100 million to families who have adopted children with special needs. Money that Mary Coovert says her adopted daughter could use.

"She needs extensive therapy because of the stuff she has gone through. She needs to be trained how to socialize with people. Without the funds, we are unable to give her that extra therapy," said Coovert.

The suit claims the DCS could have paid those subsidies. But instead, the department returned more than $238 million to the state since 2009.

Moss doesn't mince words for the agency.

"Aren't they basically a deadbeat parent?" she said.

"We are the only state that does not pay the subsidies that we've agreed to pay for special needs kids," said attorney Irwin Levin.

Attorneys contend adoptions are down 35 percent in Indiana. Mothers of adopted children want the state to step up and give their children the money they deserve.

"The state needs to know that these children need this money. If our governor is going to say we're adoption friendly, then he needs to put his foot where his mouth is," Moss said.

Eyewitness News reached out to Governor Mike Pence's office for comment, but the request was forwarded to the Department of Child Services, who said it is "the policy of DCS to not comment on cases that are in or pending litigation."