Updated: Wednesday, 09 Nov 2011, 7:21 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 09 Nov 2011, 7:21 PM EST
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - For nearly two years News 10 has come to you with stories of local foster children looking for hope through a good home.
Many of you stepped up to become foster parents but with that commitment also came a daily payment or subsidy to help care for that child.
Now that dollar amount is being reduced by the state of Indiana and, even more disappointing, for some of those families who are choosing to adopt their foster kids, their state dollars are being yanked completely.
Here is a story of a local woman who's raised more than a dozen children while fighting for hundreds more.
When you see Kristi Cundiff, you'll likely see lots of young smiles around her.
This Brazil, Ind. woman is the biological mother of four grown girls.
But over the last five and a half years, Kristi and her husband Brian have taken on a whole new family.
"Currently we have six children we have adopted and their ages range from 9 to 17 and 3 children in home for foster care that we have filed adoption for," said Kristi.
Many of those kids have special needs too. Fourteen-year-old Brandon has spina bifida and several of the children get treatment for depression and anxiety.
“I had a special needs child of my own who was really, really sick and I just made a promise to myself and to God that I would do my best to help special needs children and I saw there was a true need in the foster care system in Indiana," said Kristi.
But that need is turning from adoption to advocacy.
When Kristi's not taking care of kids, she's doing research and speaking out, fighting for hundreds of families who have chosen to adopt in Indiana.
For families who are suddenly not getting paid, the problem breaks down like this.
When you adopt a child in any state, there are two different subsidies that help you raise that child.
First, a federal subsidy, which is money given to you on a daily basis or per diem from the federal government.
Kids who don't qualify for federal money qualify for a state subsidy but since 2009, the state of Indiana has put those kids on a wait list and that means they don’t get money.
“Unfortunately the state of Indiana is the only state in the U.S. that has a state adoption subsidy wait list. And currently there are 700 children and families on that list waiting to get the subsidies they deserve," said Kristi.
Most of the kids on that wait list are special needs children.
“That's leaving our children without services. That's leaving our families to have to struggle to make ends meet," said Kristi.
Kristi says she gets emails and phone calls daily from frustrated parents across the state waiting for that money and she researches other states and their adoption policies.
"I think a lot of other states are supporting their families and they're supporting their families through adoption and our own state is drastically failing," said Kristi.
Of her 13 kids, only one is on that state wait list.
Kristi Cundiff's not fighting for money that would go into her own pocket, she's battling bureaucracy and giving a voice to adoptive families while working as an agent of change for Hoosier kids.
Be sure to tune in on Thursday to News 10 for the state’s side of the story and we'll tell you about a lawsuit just filed by the ACLU against Indiana involving this subsidy mess.
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