The number of abandoned and unclaimed children in Indiana has reached its highest level since 2013, with the state’s Department of Human Services finding that more than 4,600 children were in the care of agencies across the state.
That number includes at least 3,000 children that are in foster care or on the verge of being removed from the home, according to the report released Thursday.
Indiana Department of Social Services spokeswoman Sara Tannenbaum said in an email that the department is working to identify additional children and foster homes that need to be placed.
It is the highest number of children identified by the department in nearly two years.
The department has been dealing with a significant spike in unclaimed and abandoned children, Tannensbaum said.
It also is a significant increase from the 3,200 cases of children that were found in 2014.
The spike came as a result of the state enacting a law in 2016 that makes it illegal to knowingly place a child in a state care facility.
The new law makes it a misdemeanor for a parent to knowingly send a child into a facility that the parent knows is not intended for the child.
It was the second law to take effect in less than a year, and it was also one of the most comprehensive measures to date to address the problem.
According to the department, the vast majority of children were placed in foster homes, but some parents placed children in care homes to care for the elderly, or because of other family or health issues.
The Department of Family and Protective Services has identified at least 6,600 unclaimed, abandoned and neglected children in the state since January.
In addition to the increase in unspayed children, the number of foster homes in the Indiana Department for Children and Families has doubled from 3,800 to 11,800.
It currently has about 2,200 foster children and another 2,400 children in foster parent homes.
Tannenburg said in the email that foster care agencies and other organizations are required to notify agencies of any unspays.
She said that the Department of Children and Family Services has been working closely with the foster parent organizations and local child welfare offices to provide guidance on what to do when a child is found unspay and placed in a facility.
Some states have adopted more stringent requirements for placement, such as requiring foster parents to report unspared births to the state, which is a federal requirement.
But Indiana’s new law is the most stringent to date.
Tania Kowalski, a staff attorney with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said the number in Indiana of unsped unclaimed is “not just a state problem,” but an ongoing one.
She added that the law does not address any issues of caregiving and child welfare in foster and adoptive homes.
Kowieski said that in a recent interview, a foster parent said he would put a foster child in an orphanage if the agency did not take his adopted child in.
Kogar said that at the time, the foster parents were unsure about the law, and they are still unsure about it.
But now that they are aware that the state has taken action, they are not taking it lightly, Kowyski said.
“They’re not going to take it lightly,” Kowayski said, adding that the agency will continue to monitor the situation.