INDIANAPOLIS – With a near-total ban on abortion set to take effect next month, Indiana lawmakers have also approved roughly $75 million to fund social services for families. But legislators on both sides of the aisle say more needs to be done to support parents and children.
The new funding includes $45 million for the new Hoosier Families First Fund. That money will go toward grants to be distributed through the state health and homeland security departments.
The law also includes $10 million for child care vouchers through the Child Care and Development Fund, as well as $5.5 million for the Safety PIN grant program, which aims to reduce infant mortality.
The social services package also allocates $10 million for the Nurse-Family Partnership program, which provides expectant mothers additional care through the help of a nurse.
The law sends $2 million to Real Alternatives, an anti-abortion nonprofit that oversees crisis pregnancy centers.
The legislation also provides $700,000 for Medicaid to cover additional medical expenses.
The law also eliminates the sales tax on diapers and increases the adoption tax credit.
Andy Nielsen, senior policy analyst for the Indiana Community Action Poverty Institute, said he considers the expanded tax credit a good step forward.
“We would have liked them to expand that even more given the amount of money risen in state reserves,” Nielsen said.
Others agree that more should have been done.
“If you look at the amount of resources that we provide to those people on Medicaid, it needs a significant increase,” said Indiana Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis).
Taylor said he wanted money directed toward more specific programs, raising concern about the Hoosier Families First Fund.
“There’s no guarantee that it will go to the services that are needed in the state of Indiana,” Taylor said.
State Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica), who helped work on the legislation, said lawmakers will look at ways to increase social services funding when they work on the new state budget.
“I think we can improve,” Negele said. “I just think that in two weeks, we had to do a lot.”
Negele said she’d like to see more funding directed to Medicaid as well as child care, adding that she believes much more money will be needed to improve child care access.
“We know we have a current waitlist for those vouchers, and in theory that should cover the waitlist, but the problem that we also have to take into consideration is if there’s enough capacity,” Negele said.
Lawmakers will work on the new state budget when they return to the Statehouse in January.