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What Is Adoption Subsidy, Who Gets It, How Much, and for How Long

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By JuliaFuller - Posted on 16 September 2008

When a person or family adopts a special needs child, older child, or sibling group from the U.S. foster care system, most may request an adoption subsidy. The definition of older child, special needs, and eligible sibling group varies from state to state while the federal government sets Title IVe definition. In some states, a three year old in foster care is automatically eligible for subsidy while in other states a single child must be at least six. Some states consider a sibling group of two children automatically eligible for support subsidy, while other states only consider larger sibling groups. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and a child with real physical special needs is usually eligible regardless of age. Children who fall under Title IVe receive part of their subsidy from the federal government. They also qualify for ongoing Medicaid coverage until their eighteenth birthday.

Support subsidies vary widely from state to state. The support is paid to the adoptive parent by the placing state. If you live in California and your child is coming from the Wisconsin foster care system, Wisconsin will send a monthly support subsidy check to you in California. Wisconsin will also be responsible for ICPC paperwork and Medicaid eligibility. California must provide the Medicaid coverage to an eligible child through the Interstate agreement. This is true for any child adopted from foster care in the United States. A Medicaid card from Michigan would not do you any good in Missouri. Therefore, the states have this agreement. An adoptive parent can move anywhere in the United states and continue to receive their support subsidy from the issuing state, and get Medicaid coverage for the eligible child from the new state of residence. 

Adoption subsidy eligibility is based solely on the child and has nothing to do with the adoptive parent’s income or need for assistance. It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment, mobile home, or a mansion. If the child meets the criteria, the family is eligible to receive it. The lowest support subsidy I know of comes from Oregon at $240 a month, while New York is among the highest. Most states negotiate rates with the adoptive parents depending on the severity of the child. Texas does not negotiate; their rate firmly stays midway between five and six hundred. That may explain why they have so many special needs children on their site waiting to be adopted. Then there are those of you with internationally adopted special needs children who receive no monetary support, medical support, or ongoing services for a child with the same behaviors, physical conditions, or worse. 

I am not saying that parents adopt children for the money but be realistic. If you can adopt a five year old child who has asthma and needs counseling at $540 a month, would you adopt a quadriplegic autistic child at the same rate? Even if you wanted to, the cost to provide nursing care, respite care, a handicap van, and special services would make it financially impossible for most families. Some states discontinue adoption subsidy on the child’s eighteenth birthday, others continue until the child graduates from high school, or 19, which ever comes first. I recently heard about a state that is continuing coverage until 21 as long as the child is enrolled in continuing education. If you are curious about the adoption subsidy rate for a specific state visit the NACAC website.



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    Photo Credit: by Yomanimus