Adoption Assistance

What is the Adoption Assistance Program?

The Adoption Assistance Program reduces barriers to adoption for children who would otherwise remain in foster care and are under the guardianship of the commissioner, a ward of tribal court, or who meet the criteria for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance outlined in section 473 of the Social Security Act.

Eligibility criteria are established in state and federal law: Minnesota Statute

259A Social Security Act, Section 473

Process for obtaining Adoption Assistance

The county social services agency, licensed child placing agency, or tribal agency responsible for a child, determine whether a child is eligible for adoption assistance. The prospective family and agency staff assess the level of support necessary to meet a child’s special needs. The responsible agency then completes the Adoption Assistance Certification and sends all documents to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Adoption Assistance Program, for approval or denial.

Adoption Assistance Agreement

An Adoption Assistance Agreement is a legally binding contract that identifies the rights and responsibilities of each of the parties involved in an Adoption Assistance Agreement. The parties include the adoptive parent(s), the child- placing agency, and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). All parties must sign the agreement before an adoption is finalized.

Program funding

There are two types of Adoption Assistance Agreements. Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Agreements are funded through a combination of state and federal funds. State-funded Adoption Assistance Agreements use state funding only.

When does the Adoption Assistance Agreement become effective?

Adoption Assistance Agreements are effective the date of the Adoption Decree. Anyone can submit the adoption decree to DHS, such as a court administrator, a parent(s), or the child-placing agency worker.

Will an Adoption Assistance Agreement remain in effect if a family moves to another state?

Yes. The Adoption Assistance Agreement remains in effect as long as the family complies with the conditions of the agreement.

What is Medical Assistance?

Federal and state law requires Minnesota to provide Medical Assistance (Medicaid) for children receiving adoption assistance. Minnesota’s Medical Assistance program covers most medical, dental and mental health services.

Will Medical Assistance (Medicaid) remain in effect if a family moves to another state?

If a child has a Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Agreement, s/he is eligible for Medicaid in all states. If a child has a state-funded Adoption Assistance Agreement, there is no guarantee when moving to a new state that a child will receive Medicaid from the new state. If a child has a state-funded agreement and resides outside of Minnesota, and s/he is not eligible in the new state of residence, you may want to contact Minnesota’s Medical Assistance program for eligibility options.

Can the Adoption Assistance Agreement be re-negotiated?

Yes, if a child’s needs have changed, the adoptive parent(s) may contact the DHS Adoption Unit for information regarding renegotiation and reassessment of the Adoption Assistance Agreement.

Who gets notified of therequired changes in the Adoption Assistance Agreement?

Send written notification of changes to the Adoption Assistance Program at: Minnesota Department of Human Services

Child Safety and Permanency Division
Adoption Assistance Program
PO Box 64944
St. Paul, MN 55164-0944

What can a pre-adoptive or adoptive parent(s) do if they disagree with the Adoption Assistance Program decision?

The pre-adoptive or adoptive parent(s) may appeal decisions which deny Adoption

Assistance eligibility, discontinue or modify the agreement according to MN Stat. 256.045. The appeal must be in writing to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Office of Appeals, within 30 days of receiving written notice that the agreement was modified, discontinued, or denied – or within 90 days if the adoptive parent(s) show good cause why additional time was required.

Termination of the Adoption Assistance Agreement

The Adoption Assistance Agreement remains in effect until a child reaches 18 years of age, unless one of the following events occurs:

  • • Your parental rights are terminated, or a transfer of permanent legal and physical custody to another person or entity
  • • You are no longer legally responsible to support your child
  • • You no longer provide any support for your child
  • • Death of your child
  • • Death of all adoptive parent(s) listed on the Adoption Assistance Agreement
  • • Your child enlists in the military
  • • Your child gets married
  • • Your child becomes an emancipated minor
  • • You submit a written request to terminate your Adoption Assistance Agreement
  • What happens when a child turns 18 years old?

    The Adoption Assistance Agreement may be amended to remain in effect to age 21 if a child’s special needs continue and they remain dependent on the adoptive parent (s) for care and financial support and meet one of the conditions listed below:

    For children adopted prior to their 16th birthday:

  • • A child is enrolled in a secondary education program as a fulltime student, or
  • • A child is incapable of self-sustaining employment because of their physical or mental disability on which Adoption Assistance was based.
  • • For children adopted after their 16th birthday:
  • • A child completing a secondary education program or a program leading to an equivalent credential;
  • • A child enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or vocational education;
  • • A child participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment;
  • • A child employed for at least 80 hours per month; or
  • • A child incapable of doing any of the activities described above due to a medical condition where incapability is supported by documentation from an expert according to the requirements and procedures prescribed by the commissioner.
  • An application to extend the Adoption Assistance Agreement will be mailed prior to the termination of the agreement.

    The DHS Adoption Unit must receive a completed application with all supporting documentation on or prior to the deadline identified in the application. The deadline is at least 60 days prior to the termination date.

    Are both Supplement Security Income (SSI) and Adoption Assistance available to adoptive families?

    When children continue to be eligible for SSI after adoptions are finalized, the adoptive parents are responsible to report the amount of the Adoption Assistance payment to the Social Security Administration.

    How do adoptive parents request reimbursement for non-recurring adoption expenses? What expenses are allowed?

    The Adoption Assistance Agreement allows parents to claim reimbursement for non- recurring adoption expenses up to $2000. This reimbursement is available to all families who have an effective Adoption Assistance Agreement. Parents must file claims for reimbursement within 21 months after the decree of adoption has been issued. Send a statement of expenses and receipts or canceled checks to the Adoption Assistance Program, Minnesota Department of Human Services, within 21 months after the issuance of the decree.

    The expenses eligible for reimbursement include:

  • • Agency adoption fees. The fees may include costs for adoption-related expenses such as health and psychological examinations, if required as part of the home study process; and fees for a child’s medical care and placement and post- placement supervision. Although county agencies may not assess an adoption home study fee, adoptive parents may have allowable related expenses. An itemized bill must be submitted to the Adoption Assistance Program.
  • • Reasonable costs for transportation, food and lodging for the adoptive family and their adoptive child before the adoptive placement. If using a car or van, claim roundtrip reimbursement at the current federal rate from the adoptive home to the child’s location. The statement must include the date of the visit, location, and mileage, and receipts for food and lodging.
  • • Attorney’s fees; submit a copy of the attorney’s itemized bill to the Adoption Assistance Program.
  • • Court adoption fees.
  • • Fees for replacement birth certificate
  • What post-adoption services are available through or Adoption Assistance program?

    Post-adoption services are special non-medical expenses discussed in the agreement that include: child care, respite care, special needs camp, family counseling, post-adoption counseling, burial expenses, and alterations to the family’s home or vehicle. Adoptive parents may request to be reimbursed for costs associated with these services. To access post- adoption services, contact the Adoption Assistance Program at:

    Minnesota Department of Human Services
    Child Safety and Permanency Division
    Adoption Assistance Program
    PO Box 64944
    St. Paul, MN 55164-0944
    (651) 431-4656

    (Revised December 2013)

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