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Checks delayed for 2,900 foster and adoptive childen

by Sheila Gardner, Record-Courier editor

Checks for thousands of Nevada’s foster and adoptive children were delayed a week or more because the department where the checks are printed ran out of paper.

Bruce Alder, deputy administrator for the Division of Child and Family Services, said the monthly checks were mailed Wednesday to families caring for 2,900 Nevada children in foster and adoptive homes across the country.

“What we have been told is that the Department of Information Technology computer center, where the checks are printed, inadvertently ran out of check stock while doing this recent run and had to replenish that supply,” he said Friday.

Alder said the order was expedited and the checks, which average $400 per child per month, were mailed out Wednesday. Families should have received them by the first part of next week.

He said his department was notified Sept. 28 that the checks would not be printed on time. The checks usually are mailed to arrive on the first of the month.

“We do apologize for the inconvenience this has created for our foster and adoptive families,” Alder said. “They are our lifeblood. They have a real hard job, and when something like this happens, their lives become more complicated. Our major effort was to correct the problem and get the checks out, which we did.”

Alder said the checks also include Medicaid cards to provide for the children’s health needs.

“We agreed to issue temporary Medicaid cards to anybody who had a medical issue during this interim,” Alder said.

Pat Yargus of Gardnerville and her husband, Kendall, are in the process of adopting three brothers and a sister between the ages of 5 and 9.

“For some homes, this is a disaster,” she said. “In our case, if we don’t get the checks right away, we won’t be thrown out on the street, but for a lot of these homes, these checks are the main source of income.

“One of my kids has a broken arm and he needs to go to the doctor. I can’t get him in without the state faxing the Medicaid information which is usually included in the check. He also has a cold and I need to get him to the doctor’s.”

Yargus said her family’s insurance also covers the children, so the situation isn’t as extreme as it is for other families.

Although $400 per child, plus Medicaid, may sound like a lot, Yargus said when she is in school, or working, she spends $1,700 on child care in a month.

“I am sure this has been an unfortunate inconvenience for people,” Alder said. “We operate on the assumption that these people are like the most of the rest of us with our paychecks. We plan for them and make every effort to get them their checks in a timely manner.

“There was a communication problem between the departments, but the Division of Child and Family Services bears the ultimate responsibility for making sure checks are printed.”

Alder said DCFS monitors the check numbers and someone at the agency should have realized that the inventory was low.

Terry Savage, director of the Department of Information Technology, said Friday he was trying to figure out what happened between the two agencies.

“The normal flow is that somebody from the Division of Child and Family Services comes with the check stock. I’m not sure who at DCFS normally controls that process, but I want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. That’s our real task now,” Savage said.

Yargus said two of her four children had been placed in five foster homes in two years before they came to her 2-1/2 years ago. Their parents have relinquished custody and the Yarguses are in the process of adopting them.

“We wanted to adopt,” she said. “We wanted to take a special needs child because everybody wants a baby. Special needs children need homes, too.”

Yargus agreed that foster parenting is challenging, but she said nothing would stop her and her husband from going through with the adoption.

“They are the most wonderful children. They adapt well, they are good in school. We have moments – so would anybody who has been through what they have,” she said. “They are the light of our lives.”

Alder said if families have not received their checks by Monday, they should call Division of Child and Family Services in Carson City at 684-4400.

“We’ve heard from a lot of people who were concerned. Most have been very understanding after we explained what happened,” Alder said.