Dems applaud Pence’s release of adoption money

Gov. Mike Pence speaks during the Republican Party State Convention at the Grand Wayne Center, Fort Wayne, Ind., Saturday, June 7, 2014.(AP Photo/The Journal-Gazette, Rachel Von)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Democrats applauded the governor’s decision Tuesday to release money to families that adopted special needs children with guarantees of support from the state.

Gov. Mike Pence decided to release $10 million to the families for the coming budget year in the face of a lawsuit claiming promised adoption subsidies had been denied to about 1,400 families.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, an Anderson Democrat, and Sen. John Broden, a South Bend Democrat, issued a news release Tuesday saying the Pence administration made the right decision.

“As a state, we have an obligation to support these families who have stepped forward to adopt children who, through no fault of their own, have endured great pain and separation in their life,” Broden said in a statement. “I applaud the governor for this long overdue step of honoring the state’s financial commitment and obligation to these families.”

The state had cut roughly $240 million from the Department of Child Services budget in the last five years. The cuts started during the recession, but continued even after tax collections improved.

The cuts led to a lawsuit from the Indianapolis firm Cohen and Malad, representing a handful of families who claimed they had been shorted by the state. The state, in a response filed in court, blamed the cuts in adoption aid in part on state lawmakers.

State officials did not discuss the suit Tuesday, but noted that the additional money for adoptive families is a small portion of the $92 million the state already pays out in adoption subsidies.

“Governor Pence has a heart for adoptive and foster families, and we are grateful we have been able to identify resources to fund this program for families that have adopted children from our system,” DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura said in a release Tuesday evening.

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