Adoption assistance benefits may include Medicaid coverage, a monthly assistance payment, special services, reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses, or any combination of these. Children eligible for Title IV-E assistance are also eligible for available Title XX services.
The child is eligible for the Oklahoma Medicaid program or the Medicaid program in the state of residence if the child is Title IV-E eligible. All necessary medical and dental care under the scope of that program is compensable at usual and customary charges.
Monthly assistance payments.
A child may be eligible for monthly assistance payments to provide financial support to families who adopt children considered difficult to place. Payments are made to eligible families as long as DHS has sufficient funds available and is authorized to make payments under Form 04AN002E, Adoption Assistance Agreement, as allowable within the DHS budget.
Some children may qualify for Difficulty of Care (DOC) rates. The DOC descriptions are guidelines from which the most appropriate DOC rate is determined for the eligible child. Not every situation will clearly fit into one DOC rate category.
Special services are used to meet the child’s needs that cannot be met by the adoptive parents and that are not covered under any other program for which the child would qualify. A special services payment is usually a one-time payment made to purchase medically or physically necessary equipment (leg braces, prostheses, or similar appliances).
Reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses.
Certain nonrecurring expenses incurred by or on behalf of the adoptive parents in connection with the adoption of a child with special needs may be reimbursed. This benefit is available to any family adopting a child who meets the special needs criteria. Reimbursement of non- recurring assistance is paid after the adoption is finalized and may not exceed $1,200 per child except in special circumstances as outlined in DHS policy. Actual expenses may include attorney fees, court costs, transportation and home assessment fees directly related to finalization of the adoption.
Duration of Benefits
After an agreement for adoption assistance is signed and in effect, it is only terminated if one of the following conditions is met:
- Child becomes an adult. The child reaches age 18 years, except the child may continue to receive assistance until the child’s 19th birthday if the child:
- Continues to attend high school or pursues General Educational Development
- Meets the criteria for an adoption assistance DOC rate, as determined by DHS
- The adoptive parents fail to submit, no later than 60 days prior to the child reaching age 18, a request for adoption assistance to continue beyond age 18.
- DHS determines that the adoptive parents is no longer legally responsible for the support of the child.
- DHS determines that the adoptive parents are no longer providing financial support to the child. If a child is placed in out-of-home care including psychiatric, residential, therapeutic, or foster family care and the adoptive parents continue to provide financial support to the child, adoption assistance may continue. The rate of payment may be renegotiated, as appropriate.
- All of the child’s adoptive parents are deceased. Any child who was receiving Title IV-E adoption assistance at the time of the death of his or her adoptive parents, or at the time an adoption dissolves, may be eligible for adoption assistance if he or she is adopted again.
- A child receiving state funded adoption assistance is eligible if adopted after May 29, 1988. To be eligible, the child must continue to meet the special needs criteria and all of the requirements in (1) through (4):
- The prospective adoptive parents must make application
- The prospective adoptive parents must provide from a district or tribal court a copy of a file-stamped Petition for Adoption if requesting prefinalization adoption assistance or a Final Decree of Adoption if requesting adoption assistance to begin after assistance
- DHS must be able to document the child was receiving IV-E or state-funded assistance at the time of the death of the adoptive parents or at the time the adoption dissolved
- DHS must be provided documentation that the new adoptive parents is not the biological parents
Adoptive parents are asked to complete an annual review form that serves to determine whether the terms of the Adoption Assistance Agreement are still met and to keep DHS informed of changes affecting children receiving benefits.
Application and Amount of Adoption Assistance
To apply for adoption assistance, the prospective adoptive parents, custodial agency, or tribe completes Form 04AN001E (DCFS-54), Adoption Assistance Application, on behalf of the child and family and submits the form to the State Office, Child Welfare Services, Adoption Assistance Section for approval.
An important program requirement is that an adoption assistance agreement must be signed by all parties (namely the adoptive parents and the DHS director’s designee) prior to the final decree of adoption as required by federal and state law and DHS policy. (See last Q.A.)
When a child has been determined to be eligible for Adoption Assistance, it is very important for the placing agency and the prospective adoptive parents to discuss the special needs of the child and how the needs will be met after the child is placed in the adoptive home. It is also the time for the placing agency to discuss with the adopting family what the agency’s role with the child and family will be after placement occurs. The placing agency should discuss the various programs that may be available either through community resources or agency resources to assist the family in meeting the special needs of the child. Although the Adoption Assistance payment can never exceed the amount the child received (or would have received) in family foster care at the time of adoptive placement, that maximum amount of Adoption Assistance is not automatically provided.
After the exchange of information has occurred, the family and agency should arrive at an amount (not in excess of the allowable amount) that the family feels is satisfactory for a monthly payment. It must be kept in mind that Adoption Assistance is to meet the special needs of the child and is not to be confused with a foster care payment. This amount may be renegotiated at a later date as long as the renegotiated rate does not exceed the current adoption assistance maximum rate.
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