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Providing Permanency For Special Needs Children In Connecticut
The subsidized adoption program was created to facilitate the adoption of children both in DCF care and in the care of private Connecticut licensed child-placing agencies who have special needs. Subsidized guardianship achieves permanency for children who might otherwise remain in foster care. The majority of children placed by DCF for adoption receive some kind of adoption subsidy benefit (CT Gen. Stat. 17a-117, DCF Policy 48-18-18).
Who Is Eligible For the Subsidized Adoption Program?
A special needs child is eligible for the Subsidized Adoption program when:
- The adopting family meets the guidelines for any other adopting family; and
- The child meets the “special needs child” definition; and
- The child has established significant emotional ties with prospective parents while in their care as a foster child; or
- The child cannot be placed in adoption through existing resources after all reasonable efforts have been made consistent with the best interests of the child.
Who qualifies as a “Special Needs” child?
A “special needs” child is defined as a child who is difficult to place in an adoptive home because of one or more of the following conditions:
- Physical or mental disability.
- Serious emotional maladjustment.
- A recognized high risk of physical or mental disability.
- Over age eight (8) which presents a barrier to adoption.
- Over the age of two (2) and has racial or ethnic factors which present a barrier to adoption.
- Is a member of a sibling group that should be placed together.
- Has been certified as a special needs child by the Department.
What determines the amount, type, and length of adoption subsidy granted?
- The child shall be the primary focus in the determination of the adoption assistance payment. The subsidy shall be based on the special needs of the child. See DCF Policy 48-18-5 for actual current subsidized adoption rates available to families caring for special needs children.
- Some children may be eligible for a medically complex rate - see DCF Policy 48-18-5 for more information.
- If the child is eligible to receive S.S.I. payments, the family income will be taken into account after finalization in determining the amount of the S.S.I. payment.
- The child may receive a periodic (monthly) subsidy and/or lump sum payment only up to the child’s eighteenth (18) birthday.
- The medical subsidy may continue until age twenty-one (21) only when the child is a resident of Connecticut. The medical subsidy provides for payment to medical vendors who are participating members in the state Medicaid program in accordance with established fee schedules. The medical subsidy covers only those medical services approved for inclusion within the Medicaid Program by the Department of Social Services.
- Any child adopted from DCF foster care after December 31, 2004 is eligible to apply for the college tuition/post secondary education reimbursement program. See the “Post Adoption Services” section of this website for more details.
Medical Expense Subsidy
The one hundred percent (100%) Medical Expense Subsidy is based on a determination during the adoption process or subsequent to adoption that a specific condition existed prior to the adoption and requires current medical care and treatment. This program will be operated and funded in accordance with the fiscal, policy and procedural guidelines of the state Medicaid program. (DCF Policy 48-18-15) This program includes payments for medical services not paid for by the Department of Social Services which are related to the handicapping condition for which the child was defined as a special needs child.
Reimbursement of Non-Recurring Adoption Expenses
DCF will reimburse those families adopting special needs children for up to $750 of their adoption related expenses that are directly related to the adoption.
Request for Subsidy After Finalization
Adoptive parents may find it necessary to request a subsidy after the adoption has been finalized. Once the “Application for an Adoption Subsidy after Finalization” is filed with all the supporting documentation, a subsidy may be considered at the discretion of the Commissioner for conditions resulting from, or directly related to, the totality of circumstances surrounding the child prior to placement in adoption. A post-finalization subsidy cannot be granted for new conditions or circumstances that occurred following legal adoption.
Post–Finalization Activities: Subsidized Adoption
Once a subsidized adoption has been finalized, the Subsidized Adoption Unit within the Office of Foster Care and Adoption Services assumes responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of the adoption subsidy. The unit carries out the following duties:
- Conducting a biannual review of each subsidy;
- Determining whether a subsidy should continue, be modified, or be terminated;
- Assisting in the location of lost or delayed “subsidized adoption” checks; and
- Processing subsidies which are requested after an adoption has been finalized.
Adoption Subsidy Review Board
Any subsidy decision by the Department may be appealed by the adopting parents or a licensed child placing agency to the Adoption Subsidy Review Board (CGS 17a-117(b)). If a subsidy is to be terminated or reduced by the Department, proper notice must be given. If an appeal is taken, a hearing shall be held before the Adoption Subsidy Review Board at least thirty days prior to the termination or reduction, and the subsidy shall continue without modification until the final decision of the Board.