According to the National Adoption Center, there are over 130,000 children with “special needs” in this country awaiting permanent homes. In the context of child welfare, foster care, and adoption, “special needs” refers not only to children with disabilities but also to those whose risk factors for disability, race, ethnic, age, or other characteristics make them more challenging to place.
Adoption is a gift for both the child and their adoptive family. But, it is an extremely important decision that can create financial hardships, particularly if a child has special needs. In the state of Connecticut, a child may be eligible for a subsidy through the state if they qualify.
What is Connecticut’s Adoption Subsidy Program?
Children with special needs who are adopted may qualify for adoption assistance or subsidies. These are programs under the Federal Title IV-E (part of the Social Security Act) as well as from the state itself.
In Connecticut, the adoption assistance program is run entirely by the state, but 50% of it is funded by the Federal Title IV-E program. The State of Connecticut outlines the process for how families can qualify for and collect these subsidies.
Who is Eligible for a Subsidized Adoption in Connecticut?
Special needs children are not only more difficult to place in adoptive homes. The costs of caring for these children are also sometimes higher than with other children. Connecticut defines special needs children as those who meet one or more of the following conditions:
- Physical or mental disability
- Severe emotional maladjustment
- Over age eight
- Age of two or over and having ethnic or racial factors presenting barriers to adoption
- High risk of physical or mental disability
- Part of a sibling group that should be placed together
If a child is being adopted from a private agency, parents should determine if there is eligibility for subsidies or assistance before the adoption is finalized.
What is the Amount of the Benefit?
Children with special needs who are adopted in Connecticut may qualify for subsidies, which are paid to adoptive families to help defray expenses related to the child’s need for ongoing treatment, therapy, or to cover one-time expenses.
In Connecticut, the current per diem (daily) adoption assistance rate is equal to 100% of the USDA’s estimate of the cost of raising a child. The rate varies based on the age of the child:
- Ages 0-5: $25.99 per diem
- Ages 6-11: $26.29 per diem
- Ages 12-18 $28.52 per diem
A child diagnosed with a “medically complex” condition will receive assistance in line with the care and attention they require up to a maximum of $47.10 per diem. These children must meet specific requirements, and their cases are reviewed annually.
Any financial subsidy you receive for your child is not considered income for tax purposes. In the event this changes, please verify this information on the IRS website.
There are other nonrecurring benefits available as well. These include:
- Up to $750 per child for expenses directly related to adoption
- Up to one year of childcare expenses paid through Care4Kids
According to Connecticut law, regular financial subsidies end on the child’s 18th birthday. But, if a child was adopted after age 16, the financial subsidy can continue until age 21 as long as the child is enrolled and attending a post-secondary educational program on a full-time basis.
How to Apply for a Subsidized Adoption
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) administers Connecticut’s adoption subsidy program. The prospective adoptive family and the DCF social worker should negotiate the adoption assistance agreement before the adoption is finalized. The DCF Central Office will make a final determination about assistance.
Upon finalization of the adoption by the Probate Court, DCF will begin making monthly subsidy payments to the family. These checks are generally issued on the 15th of each month.
DCF will conduct an annual review of every case to confirm the continuing need for a subsidy. Adoptive parents will need to submit a sworn statement indicating that the special need continues to exist, and that the child remains a legal dependent. The Adoption Subsidy Review Board has the option to continue, reduce, or terminate payments, but major changes won’t be made without the benefit of a hearing.
Get Help from An Experienced Connecticut Adoption Attorney
Adoption is an emotional and complex process. It’s certainly not something you should approach without a thorough understanding of your rights and obligations under the law. As a trusted and knowledgeable adoption attorney, it is my honor to help bring families and children together using strong legal agreements. Contact our Hartford office today to learn more about how we can assist you with a special needs adoption in Connecticut. Our office number is (860) 461-7494.