Qualifications for an Adoption Subsidy

Adoption subsidy is also known as adoption assistance, which provides financial and other assistance to support adoptive families to meet the basic needs of children in care. In most cases, children that are adopted from foster care will qualify for adoption assistance. Such needs could include medical care, counseling, therapy, special equipment, tutoring, or other services. In order to receive the adoption subsidy you must “qualify” for the need.

The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 was created by Congress to provide federal adoption subsidies to help encourage placement of special needs children. Children can receive federally-funded adoption subsidies under Title IV-E of the Child Welfare and Adoption Assistance Act of 1980, or they can get state-funded adoption subsidies (non-Title IV-E) based on each state’s guidelines.

A child can be deemed to have special needs and be eligible for an adoption subsidy if they meet specific guidelines. These guidelines are set by each state. Some of the guidelines include but are not limited to the age of the child, a sibling group who are being adopted together, medical disability, mental disability, emotional disability, family history that the child may need special medical treatment; or the child’s ethnic group.

Eligibility for an adoption subsidy also depends on the state (each state is different) making every effort to make sure it is impossible for the child to remain with the birth parent(s). The state must also make every effort to find parents willing to adopt the child without receiving a subsidy. An exception would be unless such efforts would not be in the child’s best interests. 

A special needs child must also meet at least one of several other eligibility conditions which include but are not limited to the following; be in foster care for at least 60 months, the child is entitled to social security benefits, or the child is born to a minor child who is currently in foster care. Prior to 2018 the child’s birth family must have met an income requirement in order to qualify for the adoption subsidy. Now, regardless of the birth parent’s income, all children who are eligible for subsidies due to special needs will be eligible for subsidies if they are adopted from foster care.

There are a few ways to receive adoption subsidies.One way is to receive a monthly maintenance payment. This amount is determined on a case-by-case basis and can be reviewed/changed if the adopted child’s needs change. Sometimes adoptive parents are eligible for a one-time reimbursement for the cost of adopting a child with special needs. This amount is regulated by the federal government as well as each state. Also, children who qualify for the subsidy is also eligible for medicaid. Sometimes if they are covered by a state-fund adoption subsidy, it is up to that state whether or not the child is eligible though.