'The child inevitably is the one that's doing with out,' Indiana families going without services due to unpaid DCS contractors

Hundreds of providers are heading into the holidays without full payment. That also means some children are not getting the services they need. Here's a look at how these setbacks are impacting Hoosier families.

Posted: Dec 4, 2019 4:24 PM
Updated: Dec 4, 2019 5:19 PM

WABASH VALLEY, Ind. (WTHI) - Payroll problems continue for Indiana Department of Child Services Contractors.

Hundreds of providers are heading into the holidays without full payment.

That means some children are not getting the services they need.

Kristi Cundiff is a child advocate and works with the Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents.

She said it's an issue that's been going on for months.

Several DCS providers aren't getting paid, and they're reaching a breaking point.

"Providers aren't getting paid, and so some of the provider agencies are not servicing children, because DCS is getting way behind on getting them paid. When I say way behind, I'm hearing you know they're $600,000 owed. $700,000 owed. Three months behind," said Cundiff.

Many contractors have been working without pay for quite some time now.

As the holidays inch even closer, this is a big concern.

Not only for the workers but the children who are suffering because of it.

"When they don't have the resources to do that, then you know it falls back on the child. I mean the child inevitably is the one that's doing without," said Cundiff.

Kristi Cundiff said some providers are able to front the money and continue to work despite the setbacks, but unfortunately, that's not the case for everyone.

"We also have some providers who just can't do it and many of them are just going out of business. They're closing their doors because they can't run without being reimbursed for their services," said Cundiff. "With the problems that they're having, society as a whole is going to have to protect the children and see that the children in Indiana are put first."

While this problem may not work itself out soon, Cundiff said she's hopeful for the upcoming legislative session.

"Many of the lawmakers have DCS and new policies to protect children on their agendas, and we're working with them. We're advocating for new policies to hold DCS accountable," said Cundiff.

The State Auditor's Office said it's working to solve this issue.

Cundiff said they have also felt the impact right here in the Wabash Valley.

That's as more families have been coming to the Clothing Closet at the Northside Community United Church.

There, families can get things like clothes, shoes, socks, and coats for their foster children.

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