For many special needs children, adoption assistance subsidies can make adoption feasible where it might otherwise not be possible. The Federal Adoption Assistance Program, established by the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, is an open-ended entitlement program which provides the following:
- Medical coverage
- Special Services Payments
- Maintenance payment
- Reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses
To be eligible for the Federal IV-E subsidy program, children must meet each of the following characteristics:
Federal IV-E Program
- A court has ordered that the child cannot or should not be returned to the birth family.
- The child has special needs, as determined by the state's definition of special needs.
- A "reasonable effort" has been made to place the child without a subsidy.
- The child must have been eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at the time of the adoption, or the child's birth family must have been receiving - or eligible to receive - Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).
All adoption assistance agreements are to be individually negotiated based on the needs of the child and the specific circumstances of the adopting family. State agencies determine the amount of subsidy by the parents' circumstances and the needs of the child. The financial status of the adoptive parents is not a factor in determining the child's eligibility.
If the adoptive parents do not agree with the federally funded subsidy amount, they may appeal the decision by using the State's fair hearing and appeals process. Adoptive parents may also consult the Program Operations Division, U.S. Children's Bureau Administration on Children and Families, PO Box 1182, Washington D.C. 20201 or (202) 205-8671 for advice on an appeal for the IV-E Program.
The Adoption Subsidy Review Committee (ASRC) reviews requests for adoption subsidy and ensures compliance with federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations.
The ASRC consists of at least three employees of the State of Arizona who have expertise in adoption subsidy policy and procedure. Whenever possible, at least one member represents the Division of Developmental Disabilities. If the ASRC cannot reach consensus, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) Program Administrator shall make the final decision.
Foster Parents Applying for Adoption Subsidy
The option for foster parents to adopt IV-E children is favorable because emotional ties are already established. The foster parents, following approval as adoptive parents, enter into an adoption assistance agreement with the state agency if a subsidy is requested. Foster parents can also apply to adopt a child with special needs who is not already in foster care placement with them.
For specific Arizona state rulings on the application process for adoption subsidy, please refer to the following Arizona Revised Statutes: ARS ¶ 8-143 through 8-144.
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