Adoption Subsidy
Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families
Policy: 700.0090
Effective Date:  October 8, 1984
Revised Date:  January 24, 2011     Version:  7
The adoption subsidy program provides financial and medical assistance to make adoption possible for special needs children awaiting adoption in the custody of the Department or, under certain circumstances, a non-profit, private licensed child-placing agency.  Through the provision of adoption subsidy, children with special needs can be provided with permanent adoptive families and enjoy the benefits of family security, love and nurturing.  Families adopting special needs children, who have previously been in foster care as a result of abuse and neglect, need and deserve support, including an array of services, to meet the challenges that special needs adoptions present.
The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (PL 96-272) created the first federal adoption assistance program under Title IV-E.  Eligibility for the federal adoption assistance program is linked to the previous criteria for eligibility for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and eligibility for Social Security Income (SSI) benefits, except for a child who meets the “applicable child” criteria in accordance with the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (PL 110-351).  In efforts to increase the number of special needs adoptions, subsequent changes to federal law embodied in the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (PL 99-514) and the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (PL 105-89), provide additional financial incentives to states and adoptive parents.  For the purposes of meeting the requirements of section 401(a) of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PL 104-193), children must meet the definition of "qualified alien" to be eligible for adoption assistance.  Children receiving adoption assistance pursuant to agreements signed before August 22, 1996 may continue to receive such assistance.  Rhode Island General Law 15-7-25 also provides for a state funded adoption subsidy program for a child with special needs not eligible for the federal adoption assistance program.
A child must meet all of the following three requirements to be considered as a child with special needs and to be eligible for federal or state adoption assistance.
·     A determination must be made that it is not in the child’s best interest to return home.
·     A specific factor or condition, which could make the child difficult to place in an adoptive family without adoption assistance, must be present or for an applicable child, the child may meet all of the medical or disability requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
·     Reasonable efforts to place the child without adoption assistance must first be made, except in certain situations when a determination has been made by the Department that it is contrary to the child’s best interests to be moved.
The prospective adoptive parent(s) of a special needs child must be informed by the assigned Family Service Unit (FSU) caseworker of the availability of adoption assistance for an eligible child.  The DCYF Permanency Support Unit staff are available for consultation.  The assigned Permanency Support Unit worker negotiates the subsidy provisions with the prospective adoptive parent(s).  Post-adoption assistance may include an ongoing financial and medical subsidy and the funding of other expenses such as child care and respite services.  The subsidy may involve financial assistance and Title XIX Medicaid coverage, or a medical subsidy only.  Adoption assistance is also available for non-recurring expenses, which are one-time expenses, such as reasonable and necessary adoption related fees, court costs, attorney fees and other expenses directly related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs.  These fees must be incurred by the adoptive parent, must not be reimbursed from other sources or funds and must not be incurred in violation of State or Federal law.  Generally, adoption subsidy payments will terminate when a child reaches the age of eighteen (18).  If the child has a severe, pre-existing physical, mental or emotional disability or physical condition which is unlikely to change, the adoption assistance may be provided until the child is twenty-one (21) years of age.
The adoption subsidy is intended to supplement the resources of the adoptive family and the community and cannot exceed the amount the child would receive if he or she was residing in a Department foster home.  The amount of the adoption assistance payment is determined through the discussion and negotiation process between the adoptive parent(s) and a representative of the Department based upon the needs of the child and the circumstances of the family.  The payment that is agreed upon should combine with the resources of the parents to cover the ordinary and special needs of the child and other anticipated needs such as child care or respite.  Anticipation and discussion of these needs are part of the negotiation of the amount of the adoption assistance payment.  The terms of the adoption assistance agreement must be negotiated and agreed upon by the Department and the prospective adoptive parent(s) prior to the finalization of the adoption.  A special needs child eligible for an adoption subsidy in Rhode Island will continue to receive a subsidy if the adoptive family moves to another state after the adoption is finalized.
The adoption assistance agreement must be recertified every two (2) years through the Permanency Support Unit.  At any time during the life of the agreement, either the Department or the adoptive parent(s) may request an adjustment in the adoption subsidy payment.  Some situations that may justify an adjustment to the adoption subsidy payment include: changes in the federal benefits, a change in the child’s needs or the adoptive family’s situation, the placement of the child in out of home care, the lack of availability of a program or a shortage of state or federal funds.  It is the responsibility of the adoptive parent(s) to inform the Permanency Support Unit of any changes in circumstances that may affect the adoption subsidy payment, including address changes and notification if the adoptive parent(s) is no longer supporting the child.  If the Department denies the adoptive parent’s request for an increase in adoption subsidy or revokes, suspends, reduces, changes or terminates a subsidy payment or service, the adoptive parent has the right to request a fair hearing in accordance with DCYF Policy 100.0055 Complaints and Hearings.
The subsidy agreement represents the total contract between the adoptive parent(s) and the Department.  If an adoptive parent has questions about the subsidy, the Permanency Support Unit is available to help the family, including assisting with referrals for community services.
Related Procedures…
Related Policies…