Many people who adopt a child can qualify for an adoption subsidy, but they may not be aware one exists. They often don’t understand the requirements for qualification or how to ask for one. However, the subsidy can help with special expenses for the new member of your family.

What is the Adoption Subsidy?

The federal adoption subsidy has been around for several decades. It came about through the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 to help with placement of special needs children. It is known as the Title IV-E adoption subsidy.

In addition to the federal subsidy, each state has its own subsidy program. However, adoptive parents can only receive one or the other. Every state makes its own guidelines.

Who are Special Needs Children?

It’s not always obvious who qualifies as a special needs child. They must meet the requirements to be eligible for the subsidy. The requirements include the following:

  • Child’s age (older children qualify)
  • Sibling group that includes at least three children adopted together
  • Mental disability
  • Medical disability
  • Emotional disability
  • History within the family that indicates the possibility of the need for future medical treatments or therapy
  • Minority child

These are the requirements of the federal subsidy. State subsidies are designed to provide financial assistance to those children who don’t qualify for the federal program.

Benefits for Subsidies

The benefits parents receive with the adoption subsidy will vary by state. Some states provide a monthly maintenance payment to help with regular and ongoing expenses. They may also offer medical assistance for health care. Federal subsidies include Medicaid benefits. However, state programs make the decision whether to include Medicaid based on the child’s eligibility. Other services are often included, depending on the state. They include:

  • Child care
  • Respite care
  • In-home support services
  • Community services

Additionally, the subsidy may pay for the costs of adoption, including attorney fees and court costs.

Requirements for the Parents

The adoptive parents have very few requirements. In the past, their income was considered for eligibility, but that issue has been changed. Their only requirement is to adopt from foster care. They may be serving as the child’s current foster parents or adopting a child who is in another foster home.

If the adoption is dissolved for some reason, the subsidy stays with the child. For instance, if the parents were killed in a car crash and the child adopted by another family, the new parents would receive the subsidy.