Adoption Subsidy

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Adoption Subsidy: A short-term or long-term financial payment, either in the form of cash or services, that is designed to help assist an adoptive family in providing for the on-going care of an adopted child with special needs, by offsetting some of the additional expenses that they are required to assume as part of the adoption. A subsidy can include medical insurance for the child, counseling services for the entire family, respite care for the adoptive parents, so they can spend some time away from the responsibilities of the child to recharge physically and emotionally, and even a monthly cash stipend to help cover other extraordinary expenses and services associated with the adoption. The amount of the stipend and the types of services included will very substantially, depending on the needs of each individual child.

Adoption subsidy payments can come from State funds, or Federal funds, which are usually administered and distributed by a state or county agency, or from a combination of State and Federal funds. In order for an adoptive family to be eligible for the Federal IV-E subsidy program, children must meet each of the following characteristics:

1. A court has ordered that the child cannot or should not be returned to its birth family.

2. the child has special needs, as determined by the state's definition of special needs.

3. A "reasonable effort" has been made to place the child for adoption without the payment of a subsidy.

4. The child must have been eligible for Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits at the time of the adoption, or the child's birth family must have been receiving - or was eligible to receive - Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).

The benefits that will be available through state and federal subsidy programs will vary from state to state, but will most commonly include all or some of the following elements:

1. Monthly cash payments: This can be a monthly amount that is at least $1 less than the amount of the foster care payment that the state would have been required to make if the child were not adopted, and were to remain in basic family foster care.

2. Medical assistance: This can include the providing of medical insurance, or other medical benefits, through the federal program, and some state programs, including Medicaid benefits.

3. Social services - post-adoption services such as respite care, counseling, day care, and etc.

4. Non-recurring adoption expenses: This can include a one-time cash reimbursement, depending on the laws of a particular state, of somewhere between $400.00 and $2,000.00, to help cover one-time costs that are incurred by the adoptive parents as part of the adoption, such as adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, physical and psychological examinations, home studies and other expenses related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs. Before adopting a child with special needs, adoptive parents should carefully explore the entire area of state and federal adoption subsidy payments. Once an adoption is finalized, it may be too late to apply for or obtain any subsidy payments. More information about federal and state subsidy programs may be obtained by contacting the National Adoption Assistance Training, Resource, and Information Network (NAATRIN), at (800) 470-6665.

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