INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana received a multimillion-dollar federal award Thursday for increased adoptions and legal guardianships from foster care.
Gov. Eric Holcomb and Lynn Johnson, head of the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, said Indiana topped the nation for improving the metric.
“Every child deserves to have people who will love and support them forever, so we've set out to ensure each is a part of a permanent, loving family,” Holcomb said. “With more than a thousand kids in Indiana who are still waiting to be adopted, we appreciate our federal partners' continued support as we pursue forever homes for each and every one.”
In fiscal year 2019, 2,489 Hoosier children were adopted through the Indiana Department of Child Services. In comparison, that number was just over 2,000 in fiscal year 2018 and 1,100 in fiscal year 2015.
Johnson awarded Indiana an adoption and legal guardianship incentive award of more than $4.7 million during a ceremony at the Statehouse. The funding can be used to enhance the state's child welfare system.
“The Trump Administration is awarding this adoption and legal guardianship incentive award because leaders in the state have worked hard to find more permanent homes for children in need,” Johnson said. “We thank Gov. Holcomb and the state of Indiana for focusing on adoptions, helping to build a culture of life in America.”
A family that adopted two young boys attended the event in the governor's office – and the children played and cried in the background.
During his State of the State address this year, Holcomb announced the creation of the first adoption unit within the Department of Child Services. The unit brings additional staffers into each region whose sole focus is to assist family case managers with finding permanent homes for children when parental rights have been terminated.
Additionally, DCS has increased the number of adoption consultants in Indiana from seven to 19 and provided specialized training. The agency also launched an enhanced database for better tracking of adoption inquiries and a digital picture book of Indiana's Waiting Children.
The child services agency is rolling out the Adoption Rapid Permanency Review, which is designed to bring permanency to children and promote systemic change within the child welfare system by identifying barriers and implementing strategies to remove them, a press release said.
DCS Director Terry Stigdon said the pandemic has slowed the process – especially initially, with court closures – but said the state's commitment remains strong.