Children that are placed for adoption from a foster care facility, and meet their State’s standard for “special needs,” may be eligible to obtain State or Federal financial assistance to help mitigate adoption expenses. Most State programs have been created to provide financial support and medical services for special needs adopted children who do not qualify for the Federal Title IV-E adoption assistance program. For prospective parents looking to adopt a special needs child, a factsheet, provided by Child Welfare Information, explains in greater detail the types of adoption assistance available, as well as eligibility requirements for both Federal and State programs. The Child Welfare Information Gateway website offers extensive resources and information when researching online, including an in-depth search option, Adoption Assistance by State, for State programs. On their site, you will also find information on medical assistance, fair hearings, availability of post-adoption services, and links to State websites for related information. Information on the site is verified and updated by the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (AAICAMA).
If you are looking for more specific information regarding Federal Title IV-E adoption assistance, you will find it in Section 8 of the Children’s Bureau Child Welfare Policy Manual. Once you have read the general requirements outlined in the Manual, if you have further questions regarding policies or criteria of Federal Title IV-E, visit the ACF Office of Regional Operations website. In addition to eligibility requirements outlined in The Child Welfare Policy Manual, it also addresses the termination of assistance payments. Each State employs a State Adoption Assistance Specialist who can provide information regarding the termination of assistance. The National Foster Care & Adoption Directory specifies State-by-State contact information for specialists. This listing is available online through the Child Welfare Information Gateway website. For additional information regarding termination assistance, you can also visit the website of the North American Council for Adoptable Children.
Generally, children that have special needs come from a variety of backgrounds and range in age, from infants to 18 year olds. There are also several characteristics commonly associated with special needs children. For example, it is widely believed that a child that has been determined to have special needs may receive or needs special education, or the child has a disability of some kind. However, in the realm of adoption, the definition of “special needs” considers a much broader set of factors. Although there is not a Federal definition for the term, “special needs” is defined by each State, and varies depending on criteria that may or may not be considered and/or required. Some of these factors include age, associated physical or health problems, emotional problems, a history of abuse or neglect, whether the child is a member of an ethnic or racial minority, and if the child was prenatally exposed to alcohol and/or drugs, among others.
Today, the public foster care system is home to most children that are available for adoption, who fall into the category of special needs according to their State guidelines. Some of these children have even moved through several different foster placements. Unfortunately, for many prospective adoptive parents, a special needs child is perceived as a greater burden, posing additional challenges regarding care-taking and financial support. However, with State and Federal financial assistance available, the outlook and perception of those who once believed they would not be able to handle the commitment is now becoming hopeful.
If you are a prospective adoptive parent that needs assistance with the adoption process, call McDowell Chartered legal services at 316-633-4322 for more information. Any questions or concerns you may have about adoption, our Firm is eager to help you understand all the available options to consider in order to adopt a child successfully.