INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Hundreds of Indiana Department of Child Services contractors are headed into the holidays without full payment.
It’s been a problem for months. DCS and the state auditor’s office said they’ve been working to solve this since we first reported it in October.
Now, families are going without services, and providers say they’re at a breaking point.
“The delays started a couple of months ago,” said James Wilson, the owner of DCS vendor Wilson Services LLC.
"It goes back as far as August,” said Brandon Kleaves, the owner of DCS Vendor Miracle Works .
“Dating back to August,” added Jack Thomas, owner of Laser Project, another company contracted by DCS.
Take Back Control LLC owner Yolanda Reeves Owner said DCS hasn't paid one of her invoices since June.
All of these vendors said they’re doing what they can to continue services.
“We’ve taken pay cuts and even had times where we just didn’t pay ourselves as a result,” said Wilson.
“For us to stay afloat at this point in time, we had to assume a line of credit," added Reeves.
“Many, honestly, are thinking about not working," said Thomas. "Some have stopped working, and as a business owner, as much as I hate to admit it, I have to look at them and say I understand.”
Jessica Gordon, a child therapist with Wilson Services LLC, said late payments have been stressful. She said it’s not fair DCS expects her to work for free, but she does it for the families in need. She can't imagine what would happen to them if she bailed.
“That can cause further trauma to the kids and the families who are already traumatized from going through this stuff," said Gordon.
The state auditor’s office approves DCS payments, but it says a change in the process is causing the delays.
Both agencies say they are working on it.
“The Indiana Department of Child Services understands our providers’ concerns about timely release of payments and is continuing measures to improve our turnaround time. We will continue to work with the auditor of state to process outstanding invoices as efficiently as possible while still being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. We will keep our providers updated every step of the way to ensure our children and families are being provided the best services possible," said DCS Spokeswoman Erin Murphy.
“The Auditor of State and DCS continue to refine claim review and processing of payments. We have also been communicating with vendors to help them understand the type of documentation and information necessary to approve claims. These steps will expedite the processing time. Claims are reviewed by AOS in the order they are received from DCS,” said Staci Schneider, chief of staff/deputy auditor for the Office of State Auditor Tera Klutz
“I find that to be a very interesting statement because if that was the case, no one has informed us of any paperwork that we were missing or any shortcoming on our behalf that we would need to rectify,” responded Reeves.
We asked Governor Eric Holcomb about the situation.
“Caring for our children in the state that need it the most is a top priority with us, and we are trying to work with the auditor, obviously, to make sure that those who are due payment get that payment," said Gov. Holcomb.
“So, do you think there’s a deadline you could give us on when that might happen? These people want answers," said reporter Kayla Sullivan.
“Well, we’re working on it right now, and the sooner it gets done and resolved the better,” responded Holcomb.
Impacted companies hope the governor’s involvement helps.
“It was sad to know that many people just spent Thanksgiving without being paid,” said Thomas.
With Christmas around the corner, they’d like to bring some comfort.
“We’re not here to blame. It’s not our job to try to figure out what is going on," said Wilson. "We just want a quick solution to it with will allow us to be paid on a regular pay schedule and continue to provide services to these families that we enjoy working with.”