United States

  News & Resources




Delaware State Subsidy Profile

Updated January 2009

State Subsidy Contact Person

Ana Prosceno
DSCYF/Division of Family Services
1825 Faulkland Road
Wilmington, DE 19805
Work: 302-633-2661
Fax: 302-633-2652

NACAC Subsidy Representatives (parent/volunteer)

Mary Jo Wolfe
Adoptive Families with Information & Support
112 School Road
Wilmington, DE 19803
Home: 302-571-8784

Mary Lou Edgar
2610 Northgate Rd
Wilmington, DE 19810
Phone: 302-475-1027

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:

Delaware’s state-specific medical assistance:

Delaware’s adoption assistance:

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. Eight years of age or older
  2. Member of a minority race or ethnic background
  3. Member of a sibling group of two or more children to be adopted in the same placement
  4. Mental or emotional condition(s), verified by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other qualified professional
  5. Medical condition, physical handicap, or disease which requires ongoing medical attention as verified by a physician

Note: Children must be legally free for adoption, in foster care, and in the custody of the state of Delaware prior to 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, in foster care, and in the custody of the state of Delaware prior to adoption.

3. The maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Delaware is based on the age of the child at time of adoption:

Basic rates when adopted:
Age Rate
0-9 $396.63
10-15 $451.38
16+ $510.70

Monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment cannot exceed the monthly foster care rate the child was receiving. This rate varies and is determined by the child’s needs and documented in the child’s level of care (LOC).

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

A child's level-of-care (LOC) is determined when they enter foster care and re-determined about three months prior to the adoption petition being filed in the DE Family Court. This information plus the request for assistance is completed by the social worker and the specific day-to-day needs of the child are taken into consideration to assist in determining the subsidy rate for the special needs child.

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.

The following non-recurring costs are reimbursable: court costs, home study fees and travel (when necessary for pre-placement visits).

Families should apply for this reimbursement prior to finalization of the adoption. International adoptees are not eligible.

The reimbursement limit is $2,000 per child.

6. What Medicaid services are available in Delaware?

  • Sick visits to see the doctor in the office, at home, a hospital, clinic, or nursing home
  • Hospital care: in-patient & outpatient
  • Clinic visits, public health services
  • Emergency room visits if there is a true emergency
  • Laboratory & X-Ray services
  • Most prescription drugs ordered by a doctor
  • Many non-prescription drugs such as Tylenol, cough syrup, vitamins, & decongestants ordered by a doctor
  • Pregnancy check-ups for adolescents
  • Family planning for adolescents
  • Transportation arranged by Medicaid to a doctor, clinic, or laboratory
  • Physical, speech, & occupational therapy given at a rehabilitation facility or by a home health agency
  • Certain medical equipment, such as wheel chairs, catheters, and other equipment
  • Routine immunizations
  • Allergy shots
  • Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment Services (EPSDT) for children ages 0-20
  • Special services such as eyeglasses, eye exams, and dental care are covered; and other services may be covered if a special medical group says that the service is needed to improve the health of your child

For additional information, the contact person for Medicaid is Emma Curtiss (302-255-9527).

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 in Delaware. Below is information on the Medicaid benefits available for state-funded children.

Non-IV-E eligible children with special needs may receive a Delaware Medicaid card if they received Medicaid prior to their adoption (while in foster care). Once approved, children receive the same coverage as IV-E children.

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

Public mental health services for children in Delaware are administered by the DSCYF Division of Child Mental Health Services (DCMHS). DCMHS’s mental health services include the following examples: outpatient care, support and crisis services, day and residential treatment, and hospital treatment services.

More information is available on the Division of Child Mental Health Service’s (DCMHS) website at ( or contact the DCMHS by phone at 302-633-2600.

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your 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?

Delaware does not provide additional finances or services for medical or therapeutic needs not covered under the state medical plan to children receiving adoption assistance.

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 Delaware are administered by DSCYF through contracted agencies. Post adoption services include the following examples:

  1. Information and Referral
  2. Support groups
  3. Newsletter publication as available
  4. Educational materials
  5. Limited search services
  6. Advocacy

Adoptive Families with Information and Support (AFIS) is the contact agency for adoptive families in Delaware. Adoptive families can call the Delaware Help Line at 800-464-4357 or the AFIS Help Line at 302-239-6232 for information and support services.

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?

No. However, later requests will be considered if funding is available and if the case record or the child’s LOC (Level of Care) documents that the child’s current needs are a result of pre-existing conditions while the child was in foster care.

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

Residential treatment is not covered by the adoption subsidy. The family may receive such services for the child through the Medicaid program. The treatment facility must be or is willing to become a Medicaid provider as necessary. The financial responsibility for the child’s needs remain that of the adoptive family.

Residential treatment is available through the Division of Child Mental Health, 302-633-2600. Inquirants will be referred to the Intake Unit for assistance. (

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

Yes, Delaware offers deferred adoption assistance agreements.

14. Does Delaware operate a subsidized guardianship program?

No. The Title IV-E waiver ended on 12/31/02. Children previously active in the program will continue until they turn 18 years of age or leave the guardian’s residence.

Programmatic Procedures

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

The Division of Family Services retains the authority to determine eligibility for the adoption assistance program. These determinations are made at the Central Office based on the information given by the child’s worker on the application for adoption assistance, the child’s level of care, and any other related documentation, if applicable.

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

No. This is based on the child’s special needs, the services needed for the child and the family’s ability to meet those special needs.

17. When do subsidy payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments begin at adoption finalization. For those children placed outside of Delaware through an interstate adoption, Delaware may negotiate and sign the adoption assistance agreement at the time of placement so that adoption assistance benefits, specifically Medicaid, are immediately available to the child in the new state of residence.

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

Yes, if the children are IV-E eligible and meets the federal IV-E eligibility requirements to receive adoption assistance. (IM 01-08)

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

All subsidies end at age 18. However, payments may be continued after the child’s 18th birthday, at state option until 21 years old, if the child has been certified medically fragile or has a documented severe physical or mental disability by a licensed professional. The child must be enrolled in high school and be on track to receive a diploma or its equivalency.

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

Assistance agreements are reviewed annually. The new agreement is sent to the adoptive family 60 days before the anniversary of the adoption. Adoptive parents are required to sign an annual review form and required to provide current information on the family, on the child including grade and expected date of graduation, changes within the adoptive family, how the child is doing in the home, etc. for each adopted child.

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

Adoptive parents can request a change in an adoption assistance agreement at any time. Requests for change should be made in writing with accompanying documentation supporting the request. The adoptive family must request the necessary documentation from a licensed physician, psychologist, psychiatrist or other licensed professional to substantiate the need for the change. This information is then presented to the Adoption Subsidy Specialist for review and approval. Agreements can be renegotiated by the family and the adoption assistance specialist at any time upon request or at the annual review. Assistance agreements are reviewed annually and additional reviews can be requested when necessary. In a review, adoptive parents must furnish the state agency with information on the special needs of the child and the circumstances or changes within the family. Information regarding the child’s well-being includes achievements of the previous year, goals for the coming year, and school grades and other comments as applicable.

Send requests for change to the following address:

Adoption Unit
Division of Family Services
1825 Faulkland Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19805

If parents do not receive a requested change in the adoption assistance agreement, they can appeal the decision. Appeals or requests for fair hearing should be made in writing within thirty calendar days of the date of an adverse decision or notice. In the request for fair hearing, adoptive parents should explain the reason for the request and the relief they are requesting.

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

Adoptive parents have the right to request a fair hearing whenever they wish to appeal a DFS decision affecting their child’s adoption assistance benefits. Requests for fair hearing are made by submitting a written request to the DFS Director within thirty days of the date of the decision or notice. Requests should explain the reason that parents are requesting a fair hearing and what relief (benefits) they are seeking. Denial of an application for assistance or of a request for the continuation of adoption assistance may be appealed by the adoptive parent(s) or by the agency submitting the application by requesting an administrative review of the case and the decision.

The Division Director will conduct the review or appoint a member of their staff to do so. Families can be represented and bring witnesses and substantiating documentation of their claim with them to the hearing. The Director’s office will review the request to determine if the appeal was made timely and to determine that the request is being made by the person affected by the decision. A Hearing Officer is assigned to hear the appeal. The Hearing Officer is an impartial fact finder and decision maker who will create a respectful, non-adversarial environment with which to discuss the case. The Hearing Officer performs the following functions: schedules the fair hearing (appeal), ensures that all parties have been notified of the date, time, and location of the hearing, decides which evidence and witnesses will be considered, mediates the hearing, decides the merits of the appeal (reasons for the adoptive parent’s claims), writes an appeal decision, and ensures that all parties receive a copy of the decision within thirty calendar days of the final hearing date.

Send requests for fair hearing to the following address:

Director, Division of Family Services
1825 Faulkland Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19805

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.

The family needs to contact the Adoption Assistance/Subsidy Specialist to request a post-finalization subsidy. The case would then be negotiated with this person. For additional information, families can contact the state office at 302-633-2661.

System Operation and Program Funding

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

The program is state supervised/state administered. The Central Office administers the program statewide. Policy and regulations relating to subsidy and other programs are done at the state level. Also, decisions related to children’s eligibility are made at the state level.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 55.31% in Delaware. This is known as the Federal Financial Participation (FFP) rate. The remaining cost of the program is funded entirely with state funds.

25. Below are other programs that may differentiate Delaware's adoption assistance program from others around the country.

Delaware maintains contracts with a number of social service agencies throughout the state to provide post-adoption counseling and support. These services are available to any Delaware family created through adoption. Services include support and therapeutic groups, as well as individual, couple, and family therapy. For additional information on post-adoption services, please contact the AFIS Help line at 302-239-6232.

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