As if children in Indiana’s foster care system weren’t facing enough concerns in their young lives, a report released last month details even more concerns.
Of the 115 children whose records were audited, 109 did not have medical passports in their health care files, according to an investigation by the Indiana Inspector General’s Office.
Seventy-six of the children did not have prescriptions for the psychotropic or opioid medications they were taking listed in the state child welfare system, the report showed. And the authorization to take psychotropic medication was not included in the records for 49 of the 85 children who were taking them.
Signing on to be a foster parent means making a commitment to a child who has been removed from their biological family due to safety concerns. The majority of foster children enter care as a result of abuse, neglect or abandonment by their parents, according to information listed by the Indiana Foster Care organization.
When children are placed in new homes, foster parents are expected to take care of various individual needs, whether that be dietary or educational — with medical care being the most important care required. This includes keeping an up-to-date medical passport — a record of health care services the child receives — that is supposed to be updated consistently throughout the time the child is with their foster parents.
“DCS recognizes that it was not able to produce the required authorizations for the medications prescribed to our children timely during this audit,” the department said in a letter replying to the inspector general’s office.
And now, in coming years, more children are likely to enter the foster care system in the state after Indiana’s near-total abortion ban followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
According to a report by the Indiana Youth Institute, the number of children in foster care throughout the state from 2018 to 2020 dropped from 34,269 children to 26,913.
While the drop was blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic, it also noted that Congress passed the Family First Prevention Services Act in 2018, which according to the IYI report was “designed to prioritize family permanence and prevent removal to the extent possible.”
But now, it appears legislation may once again wreak havoc on the system.
Rep. Rita Fleming, D-Jeffersonville, said in a statement following the state inspector general office’s report that she was “very concerned by the findings. Children in foster care are some of the most vulnerable people in the state, and we need to be doing all we can to ensure their safety.”
“As we are expecting a large influx of children entering our foster care system due to the near-total ban on abortion, we must act now to strengthen the Indiana Department of Child Services to ensure workers have the resources necessary to do their jobs to the best of their ability,” she added.
The DCS must take Fleming’s advice now and fix the issues in the system before this problem gets out of control and the system is overwhelmed.