Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

13.39 Adoption Assistance

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter 13-Adoption Services
13.39 Adoption Assistance

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Legal Authority/Introduction



Adoptive families are given detailed information concerning the full range of financial supports, medical assistance and services available to them and their "special needs child".  Unlike foster parents, adoptive parents are expected to assume the routine financial costs of parenting (food, clothing and shelter).  Adoptive families are given a copy of the Kentucky Adoptive Assistance Handbook for Parents.  Adoption assistance may include one (1) or more of the following options:

  • Monthly subsidy
  • Non-recurring expenses
  • Extraordinary medical expenses

The purpose of monthly subsidy is to assist the adoptive family in meeting the special needs of the child.  Monthly subsidy is a negotiated monthly rate and is not necessarily equal to the applicable foster care per diem for the child. However, the monthly subsidy can not exceed the applicable DCBS foster care per diem for the child.

The purpose of non-recurring adoption assistance is to offset the expenses of adopting a "special needs" child.  The maximum amount can not exceed $1000.00 per child.  Allowable expenses include: court costs, adoption fees, and attorney fees; cost of adoptive home studies, including health and psychological examinations; supervision of placement costs prior to adoption; and transportation, food, and lodging for the child and adoptive parents when necessary to complete the adoptive placement of the adoption finalization process.

Extraordinary medical expenses are state-funded expenses related to a child’s special needs that existed prior to the adoption and are not reimbursable by private insurance, the medical card, or any other resource. Parents may be required to make a co-payment based on their income.

The Cabinet provides adoption assistance for special needs children who meet the following criteria:

  • DCBS staff determines that the child will not be returned to the home of his parents (e.g., TPR);
  • The child has a specific special need; and
  • A reasonable, but unsuccessful effort was made to place the child without providing adoption assistance (e.g. referral to Kentucky Adoption Profile Exchange (KAPE) or out-of-state agency as there was no waiting family available, or conditions exist which have made it impossible to place such a child in the past without adoption assistance).

Practice Guidance

  • Adoption assistance may be available to any child for whom an adoptive placement is unlikely without assistance and who has "special needs."  "Special needs" is one (1) or more of the following conditions or circumstances that makes a child hard to place:
    • A physical or mental disability;
    • An emotional or behavioral disorder;
    • A recognized/documented risk of physical, mental, or emotional disorder;
    • A member of a sibling group (defined as two [2] or more children)  in which the siblings are placed together;
    • Previous adoption disruption or multiple placements;
    • A member of a racial or ethnic minority and two (2) years old or older; or
    • Age seven (7) or older with a significant emotional attachment or psychological tie to his foster family and the Department has determined that it would be in the child’s best interest to remain with the family.
  • Children who are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance. Inquiries concerning this should be directed to the central office Adoption Services Branch, adoption assistance specialist.
  • Due to the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 the following groups of children are automatically eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance:
    • Children who have been determined to have special needs and who have been in out of home care (OOHC) for sixty (60) consecutive months prior to their adoption;
    • A child who is a sibling of an eligible child based on age or time in care, and placed in the same adoption arrangement as the sibling; or
    • Children who are sixteen (16) years of age in federal fiscal year (FFY) 2010, meet criteria for special needs acceptance and are adopted from OOHC. 
  • Before Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), all children were considered an “applicable child” for determining eligibility for title IV-E adoption assistance as of October 1, 2017. However, the FFPSA revised the program eligibility rules to delay phasing in the “applicable child” requirements based on the age of the child. This means that from January 1, 2018 until June 30, 2024, the “applicable child” requirements apply only to children who will be age two or older by the end of the fiscal year their adoption assistance agreement was entered into. However, a child may still be considered “an applicable child” if the child is a sibling of an “applicable child” and meets requirements as detailed at section 473(a)(2)(A)(ii) of the Act. Title IV-E adoption assistance agreements entered into prior to January 1, 2018 are not affected by these changes.
  • Beginning January 1, 2018, DCBS must determine whether a child is an “applicable child” based on the child’s age by the end of the fiscal year their adoption assistance agreement was entered into as demonstrated by the table below:


In the case of fiscal year:                  The applicable age is:

2010                                                     16

2011                                                     14
2012                                                     12

2013                                                     10

2014                                                       8

2015                                                       6

2016                                                       4

2017 - 2023                                           2

2024                                                      2 (or in the case of a child for whom an adoption assistance
                                                              agreeement is entered into under this section on or after 
                                                              July 1, 2024, any age)
2025 or thereafter                                any age


  • The SSW will take into consideration the circumstances of the adopting parents and the needs of the child being adopted when negotiating adoption assistance payments; however there is no income eligibility requirement (means test) for the adoptive parents in determining their eligibility for adoption assistance.  

Related Information

  • Children receiving "entitlements" (Social Security/RSDI-Survivor Disability Benefits, Black Lung Benefits, Veteran’s Administration Benefits, and Railroad Retirement) based on a biological parent’s death or disability are eligible to receive the benefits after adoption. The Social Security Administration (SSA) and other benefit agencies require adoptive parents to apply for entitlements after final adoption.
    • To enable consideration by SSA and other agencies for benefits, the adoptive parents sign a release of information for the child. These arrangements are made by the regional children’s benefits worker (CBW) through the SSW and the release of information is then sent to the central office children's benefits coordinator for processing at the following address:

      Cabinet for Health and Family Services
      Division of Administration and Financial Management
      275 East Main Street, 3W-C 
      Frankfort, KY 40621
  • Children receiving "entitlements" (Social Security/RSDI-Survivor Disability Benefits, Black Lung Benefits, Veteran's Administration Benefits, and Railroad Retirement) are eligible to receive the benefits after adoption. The child may receive full entitlement benefits and the adoptive parents may receive full subsidy payment.
  • Children may receive insurance settlements after adoption from a biological parent without reduction of the adoptive parents' subsidy.


  • Upon the day of the final approval of adoption, the children's benefits coordinator is notified by the CBW.   The Cabinet notifies SSI of the adoption and any reserve benefits from the Children's Trust Fund is returned to the Social Security Administration (SSA).  If a release of information has been supplied to the children's benefits coordinator, then SSA will be notified as to the identity and address of the adoptive family. If a release of information has not been provided, SSA will only be told that the child has been adopted and the date of the final adoption.
  • If, after finalization of the adoption, it is determined that the adoptive family is financially approved by SSA to receive SSI benefits as payee on behalf of the adopted child, the regional billing specialist is notified by the CBW. 
  • Upon finalization of the adoption, SSI benefits are reduced by the amount of the adoption subsidy when the family receives both SSI benefits and adoption subsidy
  • Children receiving SSI prior to final adoption may not be eligible after adoption because SSI is not entitlement, and eligibility is based on the adoptive family's income and the child's disability.
  • Due to the possible length of the determination process by SSA, the adoptive family may be sent a retro benefit upon final approval of SSI. The retro benefit, up to the date of the final adoption, belongs to the Cabinet as the Cabinet paid the adoptive family a per diem during the approval process. The R&C worker instructs the adoptive family to forward the appropriate retro benefit amount to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The adoptive family writes a check to the State Treasury and attaches a note advising these are the funds owed to the Cabinet from retro SSI benefits and list adoptive name, original birth name and social security number of the child. These documents are mailed to: 

    Cabinet for Health and Family Services
    Division of Administration and Financial Management
    275 E. Main 3W-C
    Frankfort, KY  40621


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