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Arkansas State Subsidy Profile

Updated March 2008

State Subsidy Contact Person

Rochelle Parker
Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
P.O. Box 1437, Slot S565
Little Rock, AR 72203
Phone: 501-682-8435
Fax: 501-682-8094

NACAC Subsidy Representatives (parent/volunteer)

Lori and Willie Johnson
Adopt America Network
1314 N. Boston Avenue
Russellville, AR 72801
Home: 479-967-9337
Fax: 501-967-2973

Adoption subsidies are available for children with special needs. Federal subsidies were created by Congress (through Public Law 96-272—the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980) to encourage the adoption of special needs children and remove the financial disincentives to adoption for the families. Children may receive a federally funded subsidy under Title IV-E or a state-funded subsidy as per state guidelines. Below we have outlined information related to definitions of special needs, benefits available, and procedures in your state. Answers to select questions were made available by the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (AAICAMA) through the Child Welfare Information Gateway ( Profiles for each state’s subsidy program are available on our web site at If you have additional questions, please call the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) at 651-644-3036 or our subsidy help line at 800-470-6665, or e-mail us at If you have state-specific questions, please call your State Subsidy Contact Person or the NACAC Subsidy Representative (listed above) for more information.

Adoption Resources on the Web:

Arkansas’s state-specific medical assistance links:
(See Consumer for Medicaid recipient information)

Or phone 800-482-5431 for Medicaid covered services.

Arkansas’s adoption assistance links:
(See the heading entitled, Is Financial Assistance Available?)

Arkansas Code 9-9-401 through 9-9-412

Click on Title 9, Family Law
Click on Subtitle 2, Domestic Relations
Click on Chapter 9, Adoption
Click on Subchapter 4, Children in Public Custody – Subsidized Adoption

Family Services Policy and Procedure Manual (PDF), Policy (VIII-H): Adoption Subsidy of June 18, 2004

(Policy (VIII-H): Adoption Subsidy can be found on pages 205 through 222 of this PDF)

1. What specific factors or conditions does your State consider to determine that a child cannot be placed with adoptive parents without providing financial assistance? ("What is your State definition of special needs?")

A child with special needs is defined as a child that has at least one of the following needs or circumstances that may be a barrier to placement or adoption without financial assistance:

  1. Two years of age or older and a child of color
  2. Nine years of age or older and Caucasian
  3. Member of a sibling group of three or more children placed together for adoption
  4. Severe medical or psychological needs that require ongoing rehabilitation or treatment
  5. At high risk for the development of a serious physical, mental or emotional condition, if a medical professional specializing in the area provides documentation of the condition for which the child is considered at risk.  Note: No adoption assistance payment can be made without documentation that the child has developed the actual condition.

Note: Children must be legally free for adoption to be eligible for adoption assistance.

2. What are the eligibility criteria for the State-funded adoption assistance program?

In order to be eligible for state-funded adoption assistance a child must be a special needs child as defined above, legally free for adoption, and in the custody of the state of Arkansas.  Additionally, the adoptive family must undergo a resource analysis often referred to as a means test.  The analysis is conducted to determine if the adoptive family’s resources exceed state eligibility requirements.

3. The maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Arkansas is:

Basic Rates

Specialized Rates



Up to the amount that the child would have received in foster care.









4. Specialized rates are based on the extraordinary needs of the child, and/or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child. If Arkansas offers these rates, the criteria used to define them are as follows:

Those children who have received SSI while in foster care and, as a result, received a higher than standard board rate may continue to receive that same amount as a maintenance adoption subsidy.

5. Parents can receive payment or reimbursement for certain nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption. Below are the allowed expenses and the limit per child.

Eligible expenses include reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses that are directly related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs. Children or parents do not have to be eligible for any other subsidy for payment to be made for nonrecurring adoption expenses.     

The reimbursement limit is $1,500 per child.  Families are reimbursed after the finalization of the adoption.

6. What Medicaid services are available in Arkansas?

  • Ambulatory Surgical Center Services
  • Child Health Management Services (CHMS)—Services include medical, psychological, speech and language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, behavioral and audiology.
  • Child Health Services—Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT)
  • Chiropractic Services
  • Dental Services—Most dental services for recipients under age 21 are covered. Lengthy or complicated dental procedures must be approved by Medicaid before they are done.
  • Developmental Day Treatment Clinic Services
  • Domiciliary Care—Room and board for patients who have to be away from home while they are receiving daily active medical treatment
  • Durable Medical Equipment
  • Emergency Services
  • Family Planning Services
  • Federally Qualified Health Center
  • Hearing Services —These benefits must always be approved in advance by Medicaid
  • Home Health Care
  • Hospice
  • Inpatient Hospital Services
  • Outpatient Hospital Services
  • Hyper alimentation Services
  • Injection
  • Inpatient Psychiatric Program —Medicaid will pay for inpatient psychiatric services for persons under age 21. Psychiatric treatment must be proven medically necessary before payment will be made. Treatment for recipients under age 21 must be approved ahead of time
  • Laboratory and X-Ray Nurse
  • Midwife Service
  • DDS Alternative Community Services—case management, crisis abatement respite services, integrated supports, consultation services, supported employment and services, specialized medical supplies, physical adaptation services.
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Transplants
  • Personal Care Services—Must be prescribed by a physician and provided according to a plan of care. These services include assistance with personal hygiene and grooming, preparation of meals, some household services, changing bed linens and taking you to the doctor.
  • Physician Services
  • Podiatrist's Services
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Private Duty Nursing Services
  • Prosthetics—Services include: diapers, nutritional formula and medical supplies.
  • Psychology Services - A broad range of individual and group outpatient psychology services for recipients under age 21 if provided by a licensed psychologist and prescribed by a physician.
  • Rehabilitative Hospital Services
  • Rehabilitative Services For Persons with Mental Illness and Persons with Physical Disabilities
  • Rural Health Clinic Services
  • Targeted Case Management—Medicaid will pay for referrals for services and treatment when provided to recipients under age 21
  • Therapy Services—Occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech pathology services provided to recipients under age 21 if prescribed or referred by a physician
  • Transportation
  • Ventilator Equipment
  • Vision Care Services  

7. Children who have federally funded (Title IV-E) subsidy are automatically eligible for Medicaid benefits.  However, it is the state's decision whether state-funded (non-Title IV-E) children are eligible for Medicaid benefits inArkansas.  Below is information on the Medicaid benefits available for state-funded children.

State funded children in Arkansas do not automatically receive Medicaid. The Medical Services policy (6590.2) states that eligibility requirements must be met for a child to qualify for Medicaid through adoption assistance.  The non-Title IV-E child must have a special need for medical or rehabilitative care, as determined by the Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS), which would preclude adoptive placement if the child were not Medicaid eligible.  Some examples of special medical or rehabilitative needs include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Down's syndrome, a psychiatric disorder, etc.  In addition to meeting the Medical Services policy, the adoptive parents must meet income guidelines for the state funded adoption maintenance subsidy.

8. What mental health services are provided by your State?

Public mental health services for children in Arkansas are administered by the Department of Human Services through the Division of Behavioral Health. Specialized programs for children with serious emotional disturbance are available.  Services include the following examples: interagency service coordination, individual and group outpatient psychological counseling, short-term crisis intervention, day treatment, wraparound services, and prescription drugs.

Inpatient Psychiatric Program.  Services are publicly funded through Medicaid and cover inpatient psychiatric services for children less than twenty-one years of age.  Psychiatric treatment must be considered medically necessary and requires prior authorization before services can be received.

Alternative Community Services.  Services include case management, respite services, integrated supports, and consultation services.  DHS Services for Persons with Mental Illness link: or phone: 877-227-0007

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker or medical assistance specialist for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

9. Does your State provide additional finances or services for medical or therapeutic needs not covered under your State medical plan to children receiving adoption assistance?

Arkansas offers a program known as a Special Subsidy.  Funding is available to pay for services related to the special needs for which adoption assistance was granted.  Prior to accessing a special subsidy, all other avenues of assistance (both federal and state) must be exhausted.  In other words, funding is only available when no other resource or benefit, private or public, exists to meet the needs of the child.  Services include the following examples: psychological services (testing, family/individual therapy), therapy (physical/speech), medical and surgical services, medications, and corrective physical devices. Coverage may include, but not be limited to, the following:

  1. Legal Services. May include use of the agency attorney and court costs.
  2. Medical and Surgical Services.  May include costs for correcting or treating any physical condition that are not covered by the adoptive parent's health insurance and/or by such services as Medicaid, etc.  The costs for medications may be included.   
  3. Corrective Appliances. May include costs for leg braces, prostheses, walkers, etc. as long as such appliances cannot be secured through such services as Children's Medical Services or other programs.  The cost of eyeglasses may be included.
  4. Psychological Services. May include psychological testing, individual and family therapy, play therapy, etc. if the adoptive parent's health insurance does not cover such costs and/or if the child is not eligible for such services through the Social Services Block Grant.
  5. Therapy Services. May include costs for physical therapy and speech therapy if such services cannot be secured through Children's Medical Services, school programs, Social Services Block Grant, etc.

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

10. What types of post adoption services are available in your State and how do you find out more about them?

Post adoption services in Arkansas are administered by the DHS, Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) through DCFS, contracted agencies, and parent organizations. Post adoption services include the following examples:

  1. Information and referral
  2. Adoption education and training
  3. Case management
  4. Resource library
  5. Respite Care
  6. Adoption support groups

To access post-adoption services, adoptive parents are directed to contact the local agency Adoption Specialist in their county of residence,

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Arkansas’s respite programs:

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker or post adoption services contact for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

11. If the additional assistance (listed above in questions #8 -10) is to cover specific services (e.g., counseling/mental health services, respite care, etc.), must these services be explicitly identified in the adoption assistance agreement?


12. How are residential treatment costs covered (if at all) for adoptive families? What procedures must a family follow to receive these services?

  1. If a child receives Medicaid, the adoptive family should contact a residential facility and the facility will complete an intake and refer the case to the Medicaid review team for disposition.
  2. If a child does not receive Medicaid and the adoption is finalized, there are presently no monies available for the residential treatment.
  3. If a child does not receive Medicaid and the adoption is not finalized, the adoptive family must contact their adoption specialist with DHS/DCFS who will contact the manager of the Behavior Treatment unit to determine if there are general revenue monies available for the treatment.

13. A deferred adoption assistance agreement is one in which the initial monthly maintenance amount is $0. Does Arkansas offer such agreements?

Yes, Arkansas offers deferred adoption assistance.

14. Does Arkansas operate a subsidized guardianship program?


Programmatic Procedures

15. Who makes the final determination of a child's subsidy eligibility in Arkansas? What roles, if any, do workers and administrators at the county, district, or regional level play in eligibility determination and/or assistance negotiation?

The Subsidy Coordinator makes the final decision.  The Adoption Specialists assist families in completing eligibility forms and in any negotiations that are needed.

16. Will Arkansas consider my family income to determine my child's eligibility for an adoption subsidy?

When a child is determined to be non-IV-E, the adoptive parents complete a Statement of Income and Resources.  For state-funded maintenance subsidies, the Area Adoption Specialist shall use an income table to determine the adoptive parents' eligibility based upon gross annual income.  If the family's gross income is less than the figure given in the table, a full maintenance subsidy may be requested.  If the family's gross income is above the figure given, a maintenance subsidy cannot be requested.

If a state-funded special subsidy is requested, the child's eligibility shall be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Subsidy Coordinator.  The adoptive parents' gross income shall be considered.  However, a request for a state-funded special subsidy can be made regardless of the family's income.

17. When do subsidy payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoption finalization.

18. Do children adopted from private agencies in Arkansas receive the same subsidies as those children adopted from public agencies?

State-funded assistance, in the form of a maintenance subsidy, is only available to children in the custody of the state (i.e., private agency children are not eligible for state-funded maintenance subsidies).

19. When my child turns 18, which benefits, if any, are available to our family?

Title IV-E subsidies may be continued until age 21 if it is determined that the individual has a mental or physical handicap and the adoptive parents are still responsible for the child's support. State-funded subsidies may be continued until the child reaches the age of eighteen.

20. A child's adoption assistance agreement may be periodically reviewed by the state. What is the typical process used in Arkansas?

Verification of circumstances to continue the subsidy must be documented annually.  A notarized Statement of Eligibility is sent to the adoptive parents each year.  Subsidy agreements remain effective until the child reaches the age of eighteen.

21. Can adoption assistance agreements be modified if requested by adoptive parents?

Parents can request changes to the adoption assistance agreement at any time.  Parents must submit a written request and show a material change in circumstances in the adoptive family to amend an adoption assistance agreement.  Material changes in the circumstances include, but are not limited to: different medical problems or a change in the type of condition of the child or a significant change in household.  The state may renegotiate an adoption assistance agreement if the adoptive parents request an increase in payment due to a change in their circumstances and a higher foster care rate would have been paid on behalf of the child if the child had still been in foster care.

To request a change, the local Department of Child and Family Services area adoption specialist works with the adoptive parent and submits a request (amendment) for an increase to the adoption field services supervisor for review and comments.  The adoption field supervisor will forward the packet to the adoption field services manager for approval.  The adoption field services manager will submit the packet to the adoption assistance coordinator.

22. What are the exact steps a family must go through to access the fair hearing/appeal process in Arkansas?

Adoptive parents have the right to request a fair hearing when they disagree with a DCFS decision that affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits.  If an initial application for adoption assistance is denied, the adoption assistance coordinator will send a written notice by certified mail to the prospective adoptive parents.  The notice advises parents that they have ten working days to send a written request to the Director of DCFS seeking an appeal of the decision.  The Director then has ten working days to reply by certified mail to the adoptive parent.  If the Director upholds the denial, the family has ten working days to appeal to the Appeals and Hearings Administration Section.

Requests to Appeals and Hearings for a fair hearing/administrative hearing must be made in writing within thirty calendar days of receiving an adverse action from DCFS.  Requests should be sent to the Department of Human Services at the address listed below.  The Appeals and Fair Hearing Section will notify DCFS that an appeal has been filed.  An Investigative File will be prepared immediately and made available to the adoptive parent (petitioner), any representative they choose to bring to the hearing, the Office of Chief Counsel Attorney, and the Appeals and Hearing Section (AHS).  The AHS will send out a notice of hearing that contains the time, date, and place of the hearing and the name of the hearing officer who will conduct the hearing. Hearings usually take place in the county of residence of the child, but hearing may be held in other locations for substantiated reasons.  If an adoptive parent does not appear at a scheduled hearing and does not contact the Appeals and Hearing Section prior to the date of the hearing, the appeal will be abandoned.

Send requests for a fair hearing to the following address:

Department of Human Services
Office of Chief Counsel
Appeals and Hearings Administration Section
P.O. Box 1437, Slot N401
Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-1437

Appeals and hearings procedures:

23. Families may request a subsidy after the finalization of an adoption under certain circumstances. Below is the process by which families access a subsidy after finalization.

Based upon federal guidelines, post-finalization requests are denied. The family then appeals that decision by contacting the Appeals and Hearing unit through the Office of Chief Counsel with the Department of Human Services. The mailing address is:

Department of Human Services
Office of Chief Counsel, Appeals and Hearings
P.O. Box 1437, Slot 1001
Little Rock, AR  72203-1437

System Operation and Program Funding

24. How is the subsidy program operated and funded in Arkansas?

The program is state supervised/county administered. This means that personnel at the state office are responsible for making policy decisions regarding the adoption assistance program, and provide guidance to county offices. The counties make decisions related to children’s eligibility. Division of Children and Family Services central office staff includes the Adoption Subsidy Coordinator, who maintains a file on each child receiving adoption subsidy. The coordinator processes initial subsidy applications and renewals and provides technical assistance to adoption field staff regarding subsidy.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 70.10% in Arkansas. This is known as the Federal Financial Participation (FFP) rate. The remaining cost of the program is funded entirely with state general revenue (i.e., counties are not responsible for any of the costs).

25. Below are other programs that may differentiate Arkansas' adoption assistance or post-adoption programs from others around the country.

The Arkansas Education and Training Voucher Program offers funds to foster youth and former foster youth to enable them to attend colleges, universities and vocational training institutions. Students may receive up to $5000 a year for four years as they pursue higher education. The funds may be used for tuition, books or qualified living expenses. These funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis to students out of the Arkansas foster care system.  For more information, go to:

North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
970 Raymond Avenue, Suite 106
St. Paul, MN 55114
phone: 651-644-3036
fax: 651-644-9848