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New Jersey State Subsidy Profile

Updated April 2007

State Subsidy Contact Person

Betty Berzin, Assistant Director
Karen Krohnemann, Subsidy Program
Department of Children & Families
Division of Child Protection & Permanency (CP&P)
Office of Adoption Operations
50 East State St., CN 717
Trenton, NJ  08625
609-888-7460 • 609-984-5449

Subsidy Hotline: 1-800-847-5027


NACAC Subsidy Representative (parent/volunteer)

Irene Lando
1397 Macopin Rd.
West Milford, NJ 07480-1600
Home: 973-697-8346

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:

New Jersey’s state-specific medical assistance links: and (Medicaid)

New Jersey’s adoption assistance links: (See Adoption Subsidy)

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. Ten years of age or older
  2. Two years of age or older and a member of an ethnic group for whom adoptive homes are not readily available
  3. Five years of age or older and living with foster parents for at least twelve months and adoption by the foster parents is the most appropriate plan for the child. Note: A child less than five years of age may qualify for adoption assistance under this subsection if s/he is a member of an ethnic group for whom adoptive homes are not readily available
  4. Member of a sibling group (including half-siblings) of three or more children and it is considered necessary that the group be placed together (may be placed at the same or at different times
  5. Member of one of two siblings (including half siblings) one of whom is hard to place, and it is considered most appropriate that the children be placed together, although it is not necessary that the children be placed at the same time
  6. Diagnosed emotional or behavioral problem, psychiatric disorder, serious intellectual incapacity or brain damage which seriously affects the child's ability to relate to his peers or authority figures, including but not limited to a developmental disability
  7. Any physical handicap, by reason of physical defect or deformity, whether congenital (present at birth) or acquired by accident, injury or disease, which makes or may be expected to make a child totally or partially incapacitated for education or to secure and hold paid employment
  8. Any medical or dental condition which will require repeated or frequent hospitalization, or treatment
  9. Any substantial disfigurement, such as the loss or deformation of facial features, torso or extremities
  10. Any other condition that may be approved by the Director of the Division of Youth and Family services

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.

3. The maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in New Jersey is: (as of 1/1/12)

Level A











Specialized rates:


Step 1/
Level B

Step 2/
Level C

Step 3/
Level D

















Exceptional rates:
Medically fragile children               $1,081
HIV asymptomatic children           $1,081
HIV symptomatic children             $1,494

Children continuing to need a treatment home level of care may receive higher rates than those listed.  These rates include the $500 Difficulty of Care (DOC) payment.

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

Base subsidy rates mirror base foster home rates and provide for housing, food, transportation items and entertainment.

Level of Care Rates B, C, and D are rates that exceed the base level of care rate (Level A). They are linked to the number of hours the foster parent is willing to provide additional or special care for a child based on the needs of the child that are above and beyond what is typically expected for a child of that age. The child’s case manager and prospective adoptive parents mutually assess the child’s characteristics using an assessment form. The identified needs of the child and the services the parent will provide are the basis for the approved level of care rate. If the determined rate is above Level A, the office manager makes the final determination regarding the approval of this rate.

Exceptional rates are paid to caretakers of children who require extensive care due to serious medical conditions.

The Special Home Service Provider (SHSP) foster parent receives a standard monthly rate which is based on the medical condition of the child. The payment is made based on the actual number of days each month that a SHSP slot is filled. The payment includes:

A Difficulty of Care (DOC) payment of $500 which is paid to the SHSP foster parent as compensation for the extra services required by the medically fragile child. This DOC payment is made to the SHSP foster parent whether or not a child is in placement.

A Special board rate which is based on the degree of care required by the child (i.e. a medically fragile child or an HIV asymptomatic child has a foster care board rate of $1081/month, and an HIV symptomatic child has a foster care board rate of $1494/month, which includes the $500 DOC payment).  When a child classified as medically fragile upon adoption continues to need this level of care, the subsidy rate will mirror the SHSP rate.

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.

Families adopting subsidy-eligible special needs children can receive reimbursement for nonrecurring costs associated with finalizing an adoption. Such costs include: court fees, home study and supervision costs, medical examinations, travel, and lodging and food necessary for pre-placement visits.

Applications for reimbursement are given to a family at the time of placement (although the application is not submitted until after finalization). All eligible expenses are directly reimbursed to the adoptive parents (i.e., no direct payments are made to vendors). International adoptees are not eligible.

The reimbursement limit is $2,000 per child.

6. What Medicaid services are available in New Jersey?

  • All physician services including inpatient physician services
  • Inpatient hospital services
  • Outpatient hospital service
  • Clinic services at free-standing clinics
  • Podiatrist services
  • Vision care services (optometrist, ophthalmologist and optician services)
  • Optical appliances
  • Laboratory and radiology (diagnostic and therapeutic) services
  • Prescribed drugs—medically necessary legend and non-legend drugs
  • Emergency medical services—24 hours a day/seven days a week
  • Chiropractor services
  • Home health services
  • Psychologist services
  • Hearing aids
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Medical supplies
  • Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services
  • Preventive health care and health education services
  • Rehabilitation services (physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiologic services, speech/language therapy)
  • Mental health services—one visit per six months
  • Substance abuse services
  • Second surgical opinion consultations
  • Certified nurse midwife services
  • Physician fee for routine, in-hospital newborn care
  • Pediatrician attendance at-risk vaginal deliveries or cesarean sections
  • Practitioner fee for normal prenatal, delivery, and postpartum services
  • Mental health services which exceed the one visit per six months
  • Nursing facility care
  • Medical day care
  • Transportation
  • Prosthetics and orthotics
  • Dental services
  • Services unique to special waiver programs
  • Services unique to demonstration projects

The New Jersey Medicaid hotline is 800-356-1561 or visit

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 inNew Jersey.  Below is information on the Medicaid benefits available for state-funded children.

Medical costs of all (IV-E and non-IV-E eligible) children determined to be “hard-to-place” will be covered through the New Jersey Medicaid program.

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

Public mental health services for children in New Jersey are administered by the Division of Child Behavioral Health Services, in the Department of Children and Families.  Children’s Mental Health Services include the following examples: individual and family counseling, mental health services, prescription drugs, respite care, residential treatment, mentoring, and assistance with educational issues.

The Division of Child Behavioral Health Services (DCBHS) serves children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral health care challenges and their families across all child-serving systems. DCBHS: or phone toll free on the Access Line at 877-652-7624.

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?

New Jersey offers what is known as a Special Service Subsidy, which is negotiated at the time of the adoption consent.  The Department of Youth and Family Services is responsible for the cost of services and items necessary to meet the special needs of the child.  Funding for the Special Service Subsidy is available for necessary services that are unable to be met through Medicaid.  The need for such services and devices should be outlined in the adoption assistance agreement.  Services include the following examples: physical and speech therapy, customized devices/appliances, and special training designed to address the child’s specific needs.  Many special service agreements are reviewed annually unless it is clear the services will continue to be needed.

New Jersey also offers Clothing Allowances—Children continue to receive a clothing allowance as they did in foster care. Children 0 to 12: regular $2.03 per day; oversize $2.21per day.  Youth 13 years and over: regular $2.62 per day; oversize $2.88 per day.

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 New Jersey are administered by the Department of Children and Families, Division of Youth and Family Services, Office of Adoption Operations through contracted, non-profit agencies. The statewide Adoption Subsidy unit is located in the Central Office of the Division of Youth and Family Services.  Services provided include the following examples:

  1. Information and referral
  2. Educational programs
  3. Educational materials
  4. Support groups
  5. Advocacy
  6. Respite Care
  7. Adoption Registry (search services)
  8. Behavioral supports
  9. Post Adoption Counseling Services (PACs)

New Jersey also funds an Adoption Resource Clearing House, The New Jersey ARCH which provides referral/warm line/advocacy and support programs and everything else that you might know about adoption both in New Jersey and generally.   The ARCH is run by a non-profit agency for families to directly access information and services through the Internet or by phone. Clearinghouse:, or phone: 877-427-2465.

All Child Welfare adoption services are provided in 44 local DYFS offices.  Information is provided on the website.   Contact mediation/search services through the DYFS Adoption Registry: (See Registry)

Respite Care—While neither respite care or flex funding is part of the subsidy, limited respite is available through individual PACs agencies and some funding is available to cover unusual one time needs or circumstances through the Division of Youth and Family Services Subsidy unit.  Some private organizations offer a variety of respite options.  See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate New Jersey’s respite programs, link: Contact mediation/search services through the DYFS Adoption Registry: (See Registry)

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?

Residential treatment costs are not covered through subsidy. Families must receive these services through the Division of Child Behavioral Health, just as a birth family would do. If presenting problems seem to be related to birth family history or child’s life experiences prior to adoption placement, consideration will be given to excusing the family's responsibility to contribute to the child's support while in the treatment center.

According to the policy and procedures manual (1320), subsidies can continue to be paid if the child is in a treatment-based out-of-home placement, the family selects a private facility, and the family continues to financially support and remain involved with the child.  However, if the child is in a treatment-based out-of-home placement and the costs are covered through New Jersey Medicaid placement, the Division will renegotiate the subsidy for the period of time in which the child is in the placement, according to the family’s expenses related to the child in placement.  The subsidy may be stopped entirely or severely curtailed.  If the family does not agree to renegotiate the subsidy, a support order will be entered to cover the placement costs.

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

No, New Jersey does not offer deferred adoption assistance.  A family may return after adoption finalization and request consideration for adoption assistance if the child develops a condition that may make him/her eligible.  See Question # 23 for further information.

14. Does New Jersey operate a subsidized guardianship program?

Yes. Legislation established Kinship Legal Guardianship (KLG).  KLG offers permanency for children, and stronger legal protection for kinship caregivers, without terminating parental rights.  The Family Courts will award Kinship Legal Guardianship.

Under the Division’s Legal Guardianship Subsidy Program (LGSP), approved caregivers may receive a financial subsidy when they are granted KLG.  Eligibility for KLG is met when a child is placed by DYFS for safety or risk factors, remains with the caregiver for at least 12 consecutive months, and adoption is determined to be neither likely nor feasible.  The Kinship Legal Guardian will receive a rate similar to foster care board and adoption subsidy based on the child’s individual needs and families’ participation in meeting those needs, and medical coverage for the child, with no income eligibility for the caregiver.  The subsidy will generally continue until the child reaches age 18 or graduates from High School.

Programmatic Procedures

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

The manager of the local DYFS office makes final determination of a child’s initial eligibility. Requests for exceptions to subsidy policy/ regulations (either prior to or after finalization) are processed and approved by the Assistant Director for Adoptions as the designee of the DYFS Director. 

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

The income of the adoptive parent(s) shall not be considered in determining whether or not assistance will be granted, nor is it a factor in determining the amount of the subsidy.

17. When do subsidy payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoption placement. In private agency cases, if approved for subsidy, assistance begins the date the DYFS receives the application for adoption assistance from the private agency or the date of placement, whichever is later.

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

Yes. The private agency worker must process the application for subsidy through the Division.

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

Subsidy will continue until a child’s 18th birthday. However, subsidy continuations may be granted for those children between the ages of 18 and 21 who are enrolled in a secondary school curriculum.

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

Adoptive parents are required to verify every 12 months that they continue to be legally responsible for the support of the child and that the child continues to receive support from them. If changes occur before the 12th month, a review may be made earlier and the annual date adjusted. If parents are receiving a maintenance payment based on an exceptional foster care board rate, a current determination must be made that the basis on which the special rate was originally granted still exists.  In special services subsidy agreements, a review period may or may not be specified for specific services.         

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

Adoptive parents can request a change in the adoption assistance agreement whenever the special needs or conditions of the child change and are traceable to the time before the adoption.  To request a change, parents must submit a written request and written documentation, such as evaluations, of the reason for the request to the Manager of the Local Office.  Modifications may be made to the agreement when a child's special condition improves or ceases to exist, or when a child’s condition worsens.  A child's history or behavior may make it likely that residential placement or special therapies will be needed and the adoption assistance agreement can be amended to accommodate for a need that arises in the future.  If a parent disagrees with the decision that is made, they may request a hearing.

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

Parents dissatisfied with subsidy decisions may make a written request for an administrative hearing to the Division’s Office of Adoption Operations within fifteen calendar days of the decision.  The Division’s Office of Adoption Operations will review the request, and forward to the Office of Administrative Hearings Unit which coordinates hearings with the Office of Administrative Law, which conducts all such hearings.  Following receipt of the Initial Decision for the Office of Administrative Law, the Division Director will issue a Final Decision that accepts, rejects, or modifies the Initial Decision. The Adoptive parents will receive a copy of the Final Decision.  Send requests for fair hearing to the following address:

Division of Youth and Family Services
Office of Adoption Operations
P.O. Box 717
Trenton, New Jersey 08625

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.

Families contact the subsidy unit on in the DYFS Central Office and provide documentation of the reasons they believe their child should receive subsidy.  If the Assistant Director for Adoptions agrees that the situation/condition rises to the level of the established “Hard to Place” criteria and is related to factors that existed prior to placement, the request is approved on behalf of the Division Director. 

System Operation and Program Funding

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

State supervised/state administered. Adoption services are delivered through the Subsidy Unit in the DYFS Office of Adoption Operations which is supervised by the Assistant Director of Adoptions.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 50.00% in New Jersey. 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 New Jersey's adoption assistance program from others around the country.

NOTE: Exceptions to subsidy policies may be made when DYFS determines that strict compliance would result in undue hardship or jeopardize the health or safety of the child or the adoptive parent.

New Jersey offers a College Tuition Waiver or College Scholarship program for foster and adopted youth.  Adopted children over the age of 12 are eligible.  The program is managed by Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS), 800-222-0047 (ask for the scholarship department), email at or go on-line at


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