Indiana Adoption Assistance Program1
Negotiations for Adoptions Assistance
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the purpose of the Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) subsidy?2
The subsidy is intended to promote permanency for a child with special needs by helping cover the cost of the child’s unmet needs when an adoptive parent3 could not otherwise meet them with his/her own financial resources.
- Why do you ask for financial information and documentation of income and expenses?
To determine an appropriate AAP subsidy amount, the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) must consider the financial circumstances of the adoptive parent as they compare with the needs of the child(ren) being adopted. In order to do this, we need information specific to the financial circumstances of the parties involved. At a minimum, we need: the most recently filed individual federal and state income tax returns; the last three paystubs from each salary-earner in the household; statements of any government benefits received; bills/monthly statements/invoices/other documentation of regular and recurring household expenses; proof of any claimed child care costs; and the adoptive parent(s)’ three most recent months’ bank statements.
- Why does the subsidy amount offered for the adoption often differ from what was provided for the child while he/she was in foster care?
While a child is in foster care, DCS pays the foster parent(s) a per diem to care for the child(ren) on DCS’ behalf called the foster care maintenance payment (FCMP). The FCMP is a temporary payment not impacted by the specific financial needs and expenses of the child(ren) and adoptive parent. The AAP subsidy is personalized to the adoptive family, with the amount negotiated to help cover the unmet needs and costs of the child(ren) and incorporate the child(ren) as a permanent member of the adoptive family. Pursuant to federal and state law, the subsidy cannot exceed the amount of FCMP that would be payable if the child(ren) were in foster care, and the subsidy offered must be based on the individual child and his/her adoptive family. Consequently, the subsidy amount determined to be appropriate may be less than the FCMP.
- Do you apply USDA averages of the amounts needed to raise a child instead of my own expenses?
No. The USDA averages are estimates based on data gathered from a wide range of income levels, children’s ages and regions across the United States. The subsidy offer is personalized and is based on the specific income and expense figures of a particular family.
- How will my subsidy compare to other families’ subsidies?
Since each subsidy is determined on an individualized basis, no comparison to other families can be made.
- Does a child with greater issues or a higher CANS score automatically receive a higher subsidy?
The subsidy amount offered is based on the individual expenses of the child(ren) and adoptive family and the family’s ability to pay for those expenses as they identify those costs. The CANS score determines the maximum amount of subsidy which can be offered. Effective for adoptions finalized on or after July 1, 2021, for a child with needs at the therapeutic or therapeutic plus level, the subsidy under AAP will not and under SAS cannot be less than 50% of the amount that would have been payable for the child’s care if the child were in foster care.
- What is a PRI?
The Payment Request Information (PRI) form is generated when a child is determined eligible for a subsidy. The adoptive parent must complete, sign and date the PRI when subsidy negotiations are ready to begin. In completing the PRI, the parent should list all sources of income or other resources and amounts received; all regular household/family expenses and amounts paid; the cost of meeting specific needs of the child(ren) being adopted; and the amount of subsidy the adoptive parent is requesting.
- What income/resources of the family and/or the child are considered?
The types of income/resources considered include but are not be limited to: net wages; net salary; government benefits (e.g., Social Security benefits; food stamps; TANF; Section 8 housing); income tax refunds; subsidies for previously adopted children; foster care per diems; business income; and farming income.
- Will you include foster care and/or subsidy per diems of other children in the home?
The subsidy received for any child(ren) already adopted into the family is included as a resource of the family. FCMP may be included as income if the family indicates the plan to adopt another foster child or the foster child has been in the family for a significant length of time, and the family reports that foster child’s expenses as part of its household expenses.
- How do you determine what expenses to include when determining a subsidy offer?
All expenses a family identifies are taken into account; however, there is no requirement that the subsidy cover all of a family’s discretionary expenses. As stated above, the subsidy is meant to help cover the needs of the child(ren) being adopted that cannot be met financially by the adoptive parent. During the negotiation process, if you have questions about what expenses and income are being considered by DCS, the DCS negotiator will share that information with you to help you understand how your subsidy offer was determined.
- Do you include future expenses for the child or family when you determine a subsidy offer?
Reasonably anticipated future needs of the child(ren) and family are considered. This is balanced with the existence of Medicaid or other resources to cover services for the child(ren) and the ability of the adoptive parent(s) to request a modification of the subsidy agreement to cover increased future costs or reduced income. Future needs of the child(ren) that might occur more than 12 months after adoption are not considered at the time of negotiation but may be considered for renegotiation in the future.
- What is the effect of subsidy on SSI payments?
The Social Security Administration reduces Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments by the same amount as any subsidy received.
References: 42 United States Code §673, 45 Code of Federal Regulations §1356, Indiana Code §§31-19-26.5 and 29-3-2, 465 Indiana Administrative Code §4, Indiana Department of Child Services Child Welfare Policy Manual Chapters 10 and 14, Indiana Adoption Program Desk Guide, and the Children’s Bureau Child Welfare Policy Manual.
1. The Adoption Assistance Program includes the Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program (AAP); the State Adoption Subsidy program (SAS); Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP); and State Guardianship Assistance Program (SGAP).
2. Subsidy includes post-adoption per diem and guardianship assistance per diem.
3. The term, “adoptive parent,” includes person(s) who are adopting foster child(ren) and those who are becoming legal guardian(s) of foster child(ren).