The Adoption Assistance program provides financial aid to all adopted children with Special Needs to help meet the needs of the child. As defined by the State of Georgia for the purpose of adoption, children with Special Needs include those who meet one of the following criteria at the time of placement:
New SPECIAL NEEDS CRITERIA - EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 2010
- A child who has been in the care of a public or private agency or individual other than the legal or biological parent for more than 24 consecutive months.
- A child with physical, mental, or emotional disability, as validated by a licensed physician or psychologist.
- A child who is a member of a sibling group of 2 or more placed in the same home.
SPECIAL NEEDS CRITERIA - PRIOR TO MARCH 1, 2010
(The set of criteria below will no longer be utilized after February 28, 2010)
- Eight years of age or older
- A child of black heritage and is one year of age or older
- Member of a sibling group of three or more to be placed together at the same time
- Member of a sibling group of two placed together at the same time where one is over the age of eight or has another special need
- A child with documented physical, emotional, or mental health problems or limitation.
The Adoption Assistance agreement must occur prior to finalization of the adoption. If a child is not in the permanent custody of the state, assistance might be obtained if a child meets specific title IV-E criteria. In ALL cases, it must be documented that the adoption would not be possible without assistance.
Types of Assistance
1. Monthly Adoption Assistance Benefits – help to assist adoptive parent(s) in meeting the special needs of the child.
2. Special Services - EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2010
The Special Services Adoption Assistance program will no longer be offered through the Social Services Administration Unit’s post adoption Services program, due to budget constraints. This includes, but is not limited to, childcare, respite and orthodontic services. Families with existing Special Services agreements in place prior to July 1, 2010 will be honored through their expiration date. However, DHS will not be able to approve any subsequent or new requests.
Please Note: Private/Independent adoptions, where there was not a transfer of custody from DHS to a relative/individual for the purpose of adoption, are not eligible for Special Services Adoption Assistance funds.
Families in need of continued childcare services are encouraged to apply for the CAPS Program to inquire about eligibility for childcare.
How to Apply for the CAPS Program:
To apply for subsidized child care (CAPS program) in Georgia, families must be a resident of the state and call or visit the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) office in the county where they live. Each local county DFCS office is responsible for monitoring and managing the CAPS program for its county. Applications for the CAPS program are not available online and are completed during the initial child care appointment.
If funding is not available to add new children, families may be placed on a waiting list. The county DFCS office will contact families to begin the application process as funds become available based on the date they were placed on the waiting list. Families should contact their local DFCS office to find out more information about the application process or visit www.georgia.gov
Respite For Medically Fragile Adoptive Children - This program will only serve children that currently receive ongoing adoption assistance benefits and are deemed medically fragile by a licensed medical provider. These children must meet one of the following criteria:
The child has one or more of the following:
- A condition that requires dependence upon durable medical equipment (to include, but not limited to, wheelchairs, walkers, etc…).
- A condition that requires dependence upon medical support equipment (to include, but not limited to, a respirator, feeding pump, suction machine, oxygen, etc…)
- A life-threatening, acute/chronic infectious disease, acute/chronic noninfectious disease requiring respiratory or other precautions (excluding normal childhood diseases)
- A terminal illness
- A condition that requires ongoing administration of intravenous medication or a feeding tube for nutritional support (G tube, etc.)
- A condition that requires intensive rehabilitation and/or developmental disability services.
Each Family if approved would receive up to 5 hours per month at the rate of $6.00 per hour for the first child and $2.00 per hour for siblings.
The approval time frame will be for 1 year from approval date.
This service will only be available for children that were placed on adoptive status while in the permanent custody of DFCS or transferred to a relative/individual for the purpose of adoption from DFCS custody.
This service is available until age 18.
For families in need of respite care please contact the Georgia Center for Resources and Support for Adoptive & Foster Families at www.gacrs.org or 1-866-272-7368
In addition, many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Georgia’s respite http://chtop.org/ARCH/National-Respite-Locator.html
Families in need of special services and resources can contact the Georgia Center for Resources and support. Private organizations may offer programs that can help families and children with special services. Please visit the Georgia Center for Resources and Support’s web site at www.gacrs.org or call 1-866-272-7368 for more information on available resources for adoptive families.
The following organizations may also provide resources to families with special needs children:
Friends of disabled adults and children (FODAC )
March of Dimes:
3. Non-Recurring Adoption Assistance - covers attorney fees, court costs and other one-time expenses directly related to the finalization of the adoption of a child with Special Needs.
The State of Georgia’s Adoption Assistance budget was 2.8 million over the allowable maximum for State Fiscal Year 2010. The reduction in the Non Recurring adoption assistance reimbursement was implemented as a cost saving measure. The goal of this measure was to eliminate the need to decrease other Post-Adoption services that support and sustain adoptive families. Effective July 1, 2010, the State of Georgia‘s maximum Non-Recurring adoption assistance reimbursement is $1500 per child, and is applicable to all children determined special needs after this date.
4. Medicaid - available to any child who is eligible for monthly Adoption Assistance benefits.
Note: For Title IV-E eligible children, medical coverage will continue to be provided if the child is placed for adoption in another state or moves with the adoptive family to another state, per the procedures of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA). For Title IV-B/State funded eligible children, the State of Georgia is not responsible for medical coverage when the child is placed with an adoptive family in another state or moves with the adoptive family to another state.
Length of Eligibility
- For youth over age 18 who are still in high school:
- For an adopted child to be eligible for continued assistance the child must have been in the permanent custody of DFCS (Both biological parents parental rights were terminated and DFCS had sole custody of the child when the adoption occurred. The only exception to this is when the child was placed from the temporary custody of DFCS (DFCS initiated TPR) with the relative/fictive kin for the purpose of adoption. If a child does not meet either of these requirements, then the adoption assistance will end in the month of the child’s 18th birthday.
- If the child meets the eligibility requirements above, then they must document that they are in school full time (GED or Job Corp does not qualify as full time school) by providing verification on school letterhead quarterly.
- NOTE: The adoption assistance ends when:
1. The child graduates from high school (If still in school can receive adoption assistance through their graduation month)
2. The child drops out of high school (Can receive adoption assistance the month they drop out only),
3. The child turns 21 (If still in school can receive adoption assistance through their birth month)
- For youth over age 18 who are in college or technical school:
- For an adopted child to be eligible for continued assistance they must have been placed prior to July 1998 (any age) with an adoption assistance agreement. For children placed after July 1998, they must have been adopted after their 13th birthday with an adoption assistance agreement.
- The child must also have been in the permanent custody of DFCS (Both biological parents parental rights were terminated and DFCS had sole custody of the child when the adoption occurred, or was placed from the temporary custody of DFCS (DFCS initiated TPR) with the relative/fictive kin for the purpose of adoption.
- If the child meets the eligibility requirements above, then they must document that they are in school full time by providing verification on school letterhead quarterly.
- NOTE: The adoption assistance ends upon:
1. Failure to provide quarterly verification of full time enrollment
2. Child turns 21 (If still in school can receive adoption assistance through their birth month)
3. Child drops out of school (Can receive adoption assistance through the month they drop out)
For a child who is eligible to receive adoption assistance beyond age 18 based on the above listed requirements, the local County DFCS case manager is required to:
- Verify on a quarterly basis full time enrollment and attendance.
- Documentation from the school, college or technical school must be an official letterhead with signatures.
Note: When the child reaches age 21, finishes school or drops out of the educational program-which ever comes first, the adoption assistance will be terminated.
Medicaid is available for a child until age 18 or until adoption assistance benefits terminate.
Applying for Assistance
Adoption Assistance is made available by the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) through the county Department of Family and Children Services where the adoptive family resides. In the event a family from another state adopts a child in the permanent custody of DHR, the county of legal responsibility would be responsible for completing the application.