Determination of Special Needs

A child must be determined to have special needs to be eligible for federally funded adoption assistance, state funded adoption assistance or reimbursement of non-recurring adoption expenses. A child is determined to have special needs by meeting all the following criteria.

  1. Child cannot return home. DHS recommends that the child must not return to the home of his or her parents, and the child was determined by the court to be legally free for adoption.
  2. Special factors or conditions. DHS determines that due to one or more factors or conditions listed in A through G below, the child may not be placed with the adoptive parents without providing adoption assistance:
    1. Physical disability. The child has a physical disability that requires regular treatment with a specific diagnosis given by the child’s physician.
    2. Mental disability. The child meets the eligibility criteria for educable multihandicapped (EMH) or trainable multihandicapped (TMH) classes, and has been evaluated by a licensed psychologist, psychometrist, school, or recognized diagnostic center. A child with a demonstrable need for intensive adult supervision beyond that required by other children of the same age also qualifies.
    3. Age Eligibility. Based on the child’s age, is determined according to the following:
      1. Kinship Placement. There is no age requirement for a child placed with a relative who provides paid or nonpaid kinship care and who meets the specified degree of relationship.
      2. Nonrelated and other relative placements. When no other special needs are determined, the child must be 8 years of age or older.
    4. Sibling relationship. The child is part of a sibling group as specified in (i) through (iv):
      1. A child of any age and at least one sibling are placed in trial adoption status in the same home
      2. A child younger than 3 years of age, not determined eligible to receive an adoption assistance payment at the time of the adoption assistance application, becomes eligible due to a sibling relationship
      3. If the adoptive parent, within one year of the child’s adoption finalization, finalizes the adoption of the child’s sibling, the subsequent child is, and the child originally adopted, if not eligible at the time of the adoption would then be, eligible for an adoption assistance payment
      4. The effective date of the adoption assistance payment begins for the child is also the effective date the adoption assistance would begin for the sibling
    5. Emotional disturbance. This requires determination by a physician, psychologist, behavioral therapist or social worker and documentation of a specific diagnosis and prognosis, if applicable. It should further be corroborated by the social worker, caregiver, or child care personnel.
    6. Racial or ethnic factor. The child is American Indian, Hispanic or Latino, Asian-American, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander or African-American, and 3 years of age or older.
    7. High risk potential for physical or mental disease. The child who has a high risk potential for physical or mental disease from conditions that are not currently being treated may qualify. When no other special factors or conditions exist, no monthly payment is made until there are documented symptoms of physical or mental disease. Indicators of high risk potential for physical or mental disease are:
      1. Social and medical history such as mental illness of a biological parent or family member
      2. Events or life experiences such as severe sexual abuse
      3. Prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol
  3. Unsuccessful efforts to place the child without assistance. A reasonable but unsuccessful effort was made to place the child without adoption assistance, except in cases where it would not be in the child’s best interest due to such factors as a strong emotional tie to a resource parent who plans to adopt the child or placement with a relative.

Continue to Funding Sources