Adoption Assistance for Children Adopted From Foster Care: Arranging Adoption Assistance

This information was taken directly from Child Welfare Information Gateway

Arranging Adoption Assistance

When a State agency has determined that an adoptive child has special needs (as defined by that State), the possibility of adoption assistance is discussed with the prospective adoptive parents. States are responsible for telling prospective adoptive parents about the availability of adoption assistance and eligibility for an adoption tax credit.5 Most children registered with agencies as having special needs have already been classified as eligible for adoption assistance.

Once a petition for adoption has been filed, the State makes a final determination of the child’s eligibility under title IV-E or the State program. The family applies for the adoption assistance to the State agency through the local office. If approved, an adoption assistance agreement is drawn up between the public agency and the prospective parents, specifying the types of adoption assistance to be provided. This is usually done around the time of placement and must be done before finalization of the adoption. Each State has its own regulations for arranging a State-only subsidy, and each State establishes its own procedures to achieve compliance with the Federal title IV-E program in arranging this type of assistance.

Deferred Adoption Assistance

In some States, it is possible for adoptive parents to defer adoption assistance until it is needed to meet the needs of the adopted child. In these cases, parents can elect to receive a Medicaid card only and sign the agreement with the payment level of $0, which can be raised to meet the needs of the child at a future date if needed. The adoption assistance agreement between the parents and the public agency is written to clearly identify what event(s) would trigger services. For example, a young child with a history of abuse and neglect or prenatal substance exposure may not need services at the time of adoption; however, an assistance agreement may be written to allow for services (with documentation from required professionals) if and when significant issues arise and the child needs intensive therapy or perhaps even residential care during the school-age or adolescent years.

Often, psychiatric reports and other documentation are necessary to justify the potential need for a future subsidy.

Appealing an Adoption Assistance Decision

Adoptive parents may appeal the State agency’s decision regarding adoption assistance or the adoption assistance amount by using the State’s fair hearing and appeals process. If the family is appealing a decision regarding a title IV-E subsidy, the family files an appeal through the local agency that administers title IV-E assistance. The local agency must inform the family about steps in the State fair hearing process. During the process, some families choose to hire an attorney or seek the advice of advocacy organizations for children with special needs. If a family wishes to appeal a decision regarding State adoption assistance, the family may consult with the local agency adoption assistance representative about the steps in the State appeals (or “fair hearing”) process. Find more information about the fair hearing process on the Information Gateway website:

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5 Read more about the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008:


Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2011). Employer-provided adoption benefits.’' Washington DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.