WESTBROOK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A lot of families who have adopted children within Maine's foster care system were shocked to learn this week that their state subsidy would be cut in half between April and June. The $1.4 million dollar cut is part of the governor's curtailment cuts.
The state pays families who adopt children with histories of trauma, abuse, neglect and other issues an average of $26 a day to help offset the added costs that go along with having children with those special needs. Under the curtailment order, that subsidy would go down to $13 a day between April and June. The Department of Health and Human Services has asked for additional funds in the next biennium to ensure that families receive their full subsidy going forward.
Abby Davis, who has two adopted daughters, is among those asking DHHS to take a second look at the issue. As a single mom, she says losing that subsidy, even for 3 months, would mean she'd have to get a second job. "A lot of the families I know, myself included, we've opened are homes to these amazingly wonderful children with the support of DHHS and the state behind us, and now they've turned around and said, 'We've made this huge fiscal mistake. And we're going to expect ytou to help us make it up.'"
Angie Bellefleur, an associate director in the Office of Child and Family Services, says her office knows this will be difficult for families, and staff members are doing all they can to help people who call find other supports that can help them through that time. She stresses that the cut is temporary, and that DHHS gave families notice now so that they would have time to prepare. "The department understands that this impacts them and we will work with them to ensure the safety and stability and permanency of all children."
The legislature could reverse this cut, but it would have to find the money someplace else. Bellefleur says this program was one of the very few areas in the agency that is eligible for a curtailment cut. "We looked for says that we could meet the funding target that we needed and impact the fewest amount of people for the least amount of time," she said.