New York State Subsidy Profile
Updated June 2008
State Subsidy Contact Person
Office of Children & Family Services
NYS Adoption Services
Capital View Office Park
52 Washington St.
Rensselaer, NY 12144
State NACAC Representative (parent/volunteer)
NYS Citizens' Coalition for Children, Inc.
Adoption Professional and Parent
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 (www.childwelfare.gov). Profiles for each state’s subsidy program are available on our web site at www.nacac.org. 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 email@example.com. 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 York’s state-specific medical assistance links:
New York’s adoption assistance links:
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 who is handicapped or hard to place whose needs or circumstances may be a barrier to placement or adoption without financial assistance.
Handicapped child means a child with a specific physical, mental or emotional condition or disability of such severity or kind, which, in the opinion of the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) would constitute a significant obstacle to the child’s adoption. Such conditions include, but are not limited to:
- Any medical or dental condition which will require repeated or frequent hospitalization, treatment or follow-up care;
- Any physical handicap, by reason of physical defect or deformity, whether congenital or acquired by accident injury or disease, which makes or may be expected to make a child totally or partially incapacitated for education or for remunerative occupation, as described in sections 1002 and 4001 of the Education Law; or makes or may be expected to make a child handicapped, as described in section 2581 of the Public health Law;
- Any substantial disfigurement, such as the loss or deformation of facial features, torso or extremities; or
- A diagnosed personality or behavioral problem, psychiatric disorder, serious intellectual incapacity or brain damage which seriously affects the child’s ability to relate to his peers and/or authority figures, including mental retardation or developmental disability.
[NOTE: The definition of “handicapped” is not all-inclusive.]
Hard-to-place child means a child, other than a handicapped child:
1. Who has not been placed for adoption within six months from the date his or her guardianship and custody were committed to the social services official or the voluntary authorized agency; or
2. Who has not been placed for adoption within six months from the date a previous placement terminated and the child was returned to the care of the social services official or voluntary authorized agency; or
3. Who meets any of the following conditions, which the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) has identified as constituting a significant obstacle to a child’s adoption, notwithstanding that the child has been in the guardianship and custody of the social services official or the voluntary authorized agency for less than six months:
• The child is one of a group of two siblings (including half-siblings) who are free for adoption and it is considered necessary that the group be placed together and
(a) at least one of the children is five years of age or older; or
(b) at least one of the children is a member of a minority group which is substantially over represented in New York State foster care in relation to the percentage of that group to the State’s total population; or
(c) at least one of the children is otherwise eligible for adoption assistance in accordance with the provisions of this subdivision:
• The child is the sibling or half-sibling of a child already adopted and it is considered necessary that such children be placed together and
(a) The child to be adopted is five years of age or older; or
(b) The children is a member of a minority group which is substantially over represented in New York State foster care in relation to the percentage of that group to the State’s total population; or
(c) The sibling or half sibling already adopted is eligible for subsidy or would have been eligible for subsidy if application had been made at the time of or prior to the adoption;
• The child is one of a group of three or more siblings (including half-siblings) who are free for adoption and it is considered necessary that the group be placed together; or
• The child is eight years of age or older and is a member of a minority group which is substantially over represented in New York State foster care in relation to the percentage of that group to the State’s total population; or
• The child is ten years of age or older; or
• The child is hard to place with parents other than his/her present foster parent(s) because he/she has been in care with the same foster parent(s) for 12 months or more prior to the signing of the adoption placement agreement by such foster parents and has developed a strong attachment to his/her foster parent(s) while in such care and separation from the foster parent(s) would adversely affect the child’s development.
A child, for adoption assistance purposes in New York, is defined as:
• A person under the age of 21 whose guardianship and custody have been committed to a social services official or a voluntary authorized agency or whose guardianship or custody have been committed to a certified or approved foster parent prior to the child's 18th birthday.
• A person under the age of 21 whose care and custody have been transferred prior to his/her 18th birthday to a social services official or a voluntary authorized agency whose parents are deceased or one parent is deceased and the other parent is not legally entitled to be notified.
NOTE: Children must be legally free for adoption and in the guardianship and custody of a voluntary authorized agency or foster parent 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 an individual must meet the state definition of child and the criteria of either handicapped or hard to place as defined above. The effect of New York's definition of 'child' is that the child must be in the custody of a social services official or voluntary authorized agency or certified or approved foster parent(s).
3. The maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance rate for board and care in New York is:
Maintenance Per Diem
12 & over
16 & over
[Metro Region: New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, and Rockland Counties]
Specialized per diem rates: $36.33 (Metro and Upstate)
Exceptional per diem rates: $55.07 (Metro and Upstate)
Some social services officials will pay a diaper allowance up to age four. The maximum per diem for the diaper allowance is $1.74.
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 York offers these rates, the criteria used to define them are as follows:
Because each social service district establishes its rates, not to exceed the maximum set by the State, the criteria for a specialized rate vary accordingly.
The New York State Citizen’s Coalition for Children (NYSCCC) collects over 70 rate tables throughout the state—607-272-0034 or www.nysccc.org
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.
Nonrecurring expenses that may be reimbursed are reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, the costs of an adoption study (including health and psychological examinations and consultations), the cost of supervising an adoptive placement, transportation costs, and the reasonable costs of lodging and food for a child and his or her adoptive parent(s), which are incurred by or on behalf of the adoptive parent(s) and not otherwise reimbursed from other sources, which are directly related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs and which are not incurred in violation of Federal laws or the laws of New York or any other state.
An application for these expenses must be signed prior to finalization of the adoption by the adoptive parent(s) and the social services official or an official of the authorized voluntary agency having custody of the child. Documentation of nonrecurring expenses must be in the form of receipts or written verification of services received and paid for, or services rendered or being rendered but for which payment has not been made. This documentation must be received within two years of the date of the final adoption decree. This must be a single application, not several submissions for the same child as receipts are gathered.
The reimbursement limit is $2,000 per child (maximum).
Note: Parents of children who are hard to place because of the six month criteria cannot receive reimbursement for expenses related to the finalization of an adoption.
6. What Medicaid services are available in New York?
- Prenatal Care
- Other Health Services
- Clinic Services
- Family Planning
- Hospital Inpatient and Outpatient
- Laboratory and X-ray
- Care in a Nursing Home
- Care through Home Health Agencies and Personal Care
- Treatment and Preventive Health and Dental Care (Doctors and Dentists)
- Treatment in Psychiatric Hospitals—(for persons under 21 or those 65 and older), mental health facilities, and facilities for the mentally retarded or the developmentally disabled.
- Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSTD) for children under 21 years of age
- Medicine, Supplies, Medical Equipment, and Appliances (wheelchairs, etc.)
- Transportation to Medical Appointment—including bus tokens and car mileage
- Emergency Ambulance Transportation to a Hospital
Our state does not provide additional medical services to children receiving adoption assistance in addition to federally mandated Medicaid services. The same services are provided to children receiving adoption assistance as any other Medicaid recipient.
Contact: Donna Mazzeo (518) 402-3750.
New York’s state-specific medical assistance information for in-state and out-of-state adoption assistance is available at http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/medicaid/medicaid.htm
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 New York. Below is information on the Medicaid benefits available for state-funded children
All children eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance receive Medical Assistance (MA/Medicaid). Children receiving state-funded adoption assistance receive the same benefits as children who receive Title IV-E adoption assistance. Children who are hard to place and are not Title IV-E eligible do not receive state medical coverage unless the adoptive parent(s) are age 62 or older, or are within five years of mandatory retirement age at the time a request is made for an adoption subsidy.
State medical coverage is extended to children who are handicapped but neither Title IV-E nor Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) eligible.
Eligibility for NYS medical is determined and administered at the local level but payment is shared between the state and local government. Children approved for an adoption subsidy in the state of New York are not subject to a review after finalization.
8. What mental health services are provided by your State?
Mental health services for children and adolescents in New York State are administered by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH). OMH has a strong commitment to meeting the mental health needs of children and adolescents with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED). Most children and adolescents receiving public mental health services in New York receive services in community-based settings and a minority receives services in inpatient settings. Over the past two decades, the system of care for children and adolescents with SED has evolved gradually from a system based primarily on inpatient treatment to a system that provides treatment primarily in the community. This shift to a community-based system of care has been made possible by advances in psychotropic medications, emerging scientific evidence about the effectiveness of home-based clinical interventions and the infusion of new resources into community-based mental health programs. It embodies the philosophy that the family, defined in its broadest sense, is the best place to raise children with SED so they can stay at home and in school. OMH strives to provide services that are evidence-based and/or draw on state of the art research, (OMH Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Mental Health Services, 2004-2008).
Services are structured to be mobile, flexible and more responsive to children and adolescents with the highest needs. Each county, and one borough in New York City, has set up a Single Point of Access (SPOA) to improve coordination in the service delivery system by planning for children who are at risk of residential or out of home treatment. SPOAs include cross-systems collaboration and coordinate high risk services such as Residential Treatment Facilities, Home and Community Based Services Waiver, both Intensive and Supportive Case Management, Family Based Treatment, Community Residence and Teaching Family Homes. Family support is important to ensure that family voice and involvement is an integral part of services and that family needs are met.
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, OMH is working to integrate and develop systems of care sensitive to the trauma needs of children and their families. Other services include school support projects, functional family therapy, common sense parenting ® and Home Based Crisis Intervention, in addition to many of those already listed above, (OMH Statewide Plan for Comprehensive Mental Health Services, 2004-2008). New York State mental health services also include least restrictive to more intensive services ranging from clinic treatment and day treatment to inpatient services and partial hospital services. New York State believes in the systems of care approach to serving the needs of children and is involved in several cross-systems initiatives including the Coordinated Children’s Services Initiative, and a Mental Health/Juvenile Justice collaborative. Services to treat juvenile sex offenders have also been developed.
For more information on specific services available in your community please see the OMH Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Mental Health Services, on the OMH web site at http://www.omh.state.ny.us/ See also the Medicaid Helpline: 518-486-9057
NOTE: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker or the county Department of Mental Health information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services and the specific services available in the local community as services vary by locality.
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?
No. New York does not provide additional finances or services for medical or therapeutic needs not covered under its state medical assistance state 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 New York are provided by the local social services district or a voluntary authorized agency whose services have been purchased by the local social services district in which the adoptive parents reside. These services may include:
- Information and referral
- Support groups (parent/family)
- Respite Care
- Therapeutic/crisis intervention
- Walk-in centers
New York post adoption services: http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/adopt/post_adoption/ Adoptive parents can also contact the New York Parent Connection for additional information on post adoption services, phone: 800-345-KIDS (800-345-5437). Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate New York’s respite programs: http://www.respitelocator.org/
New York has numerous adoption support organizations. See the following organizations for post adoption service information:
New York State Citizens Coalition for Children: http://www.nysccc.org/ or phone: 607-272-0034
Circle of Support: http://www.nyc.gov/html/acs/html/support_families/circle_of_support.shtml or phone: 877-676-9474
Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your local adoption assistance worker or local 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?
If an adopted child requires residential treatment services, the family would follow the same legal procedures as the family of a child who had not been adopted. It is the responsibility of the residential treatment facility to determine how costs are covered. Parents may or may not be charged for the services provided.
13. A deferred adoption assistance agreement is one in which the initial monthly maintenance amount is $0. Does New York offer such agreements?
14. Does New York operate a subsidized guardianship program?
No. However, upon the death of the person(s) who adopted the child prior to his/her 21st birthday, payments must be made to the legal guardian or custodian of the child until the child has reached the age of 21. If the death of a parent occurs between the adopted child’s eighteenth and twentieth birthday, payment must continue to the guardian of the adopted child with the child’s consent, or the adopted child may apply to receive the subsidy payment directly.
15. Who makes the final determination of a child's subsidy eligibility in New York? What roles, if any, do workers and administrators at the county, district, or regional level play in eligibility determination and/or assistance negotiation?
Subsidy agreements are reviewed and approved at the local/county level and subsequently by NYS Adoption Services. Social service districts may apply to conduct final reviews. Fair hearings are used to review cases when there are disputes on determinations.
16. Will New York consider my family income to determine my child's eligibility for an adoption subsidy?
The availability of an adoption subsidy is solely dependent on the child's eligibility based on his or her condition or circumstances. There is no means test to determine subsidy eligibility for adoptive parents. However, the annual income of the person(s) adopting the child may be considered only for the purpose of determining the amount of the monthly payment to be made. This percentage may not be less than 75 percent of the applicable board rate of the social service district for which the child is approved, and may not exceed 100% of the applicable board rate of the social service district. It is the social services district’s decision whether or not to use income in determining the monthly payment to be made. A social service district must use the same option for all subsidized adoptions, and cannot pay less than 100% of the applicable clothing or diaper allowance used by the social service district.
17. When do subsidy payments begin?
Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoption finalization for the majority of children. Payments may begin earlier if the child was placed directly in the custody of a voluntary authorized agency by the birth parent(s).
18. Do children adopted from private agencies in New York receive the same subsidies as those children adopted from public agencies?
Yes—The same application must be completed and approved prior to finalization. There is no distinction between the subsidy amount and services available to children in the guardianship and custody of the local social service district and the voluntary authorized agencies.
19. When my child turns 18, which benefits, if any, are available to our family?
Subsidy maintenance payments are available to all eligible children until the age of 21. Medicaid (Title IV-E eligible) or New York State medical subsidy is available for handicapped children who are still supported by their parents until age 21. Medical subsidy is provided for a hard to place child until age 21 if the adoptive parent(s) are age 62 or older or within five years of mandatory retirement at the time of adoption. For hard to place children who are Title IV-E eligible, Medicaid is available up to age eighteen.
20. A child's adoption assistance agreement may be periodically reviewed by the state. What is the typical process used in New York?
Neither the written agreement nor the amount of the payment is subject to an annual review, except when there is an increase in the foster care board rate and/or the clothing replacement allowance, or when a change in the age of an adopted child qualifies such child to receive adoption subsidy payments at an increased rate.
The social services official must remind the adoptive parent(s) on a biennial basis of their obligation to support the adopted child and to notify the social services official if the adoptive parent(s) are no longer providing any support to the child or are no longer responsible for the support of the child.
21. Can adoption assistance agreements be modified if requested by adoptive parents?
An adoptive parent may make a written request to the social services district or to the voluntary authorized agency making the subsidy payment for any of the following reasons/conditions:
- Following final approval of an adoption assistance application by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) New York State Adoption Service (NYSAS), and prior to finalization of the adoption, if there is a change in the child’s medical condition and/or medical documentation verifying a change that warrants adoption assistance payment at a higher rate. Upon approval a new Agreement will replace the previous agreement.
- Following finalization of the adoption and the child is receiving adoption assistance, if there is a worsening of a condition or a pre-existing condition is identified which was not known by the adoptive parent(s) prior to finalization of the adoption. The Upgrade Amendment Request, for an increase in amount, is an “amended” Adoption Subsidy Agreement along with documentation of the child’s disabilities and documentation that subsequent to the adoption being finalized, there had been a worsening of an adoption assistance-eligible condition which may now qualify the child for a higher adoption assistance level.
- Following finalization of the adoption where the subsidy was not previously requested or where a previous request was never approved. The Post Finalization Request must be based on medical documentation of a pre-existing condition unknown to the parent(s) at the time of finalization; that is diagnosed after finalization and a physician certifies that the condition or disability existed prior to the completion of the adoption.
- Following a change in the marital status of the adoptive parent(s) or a legal transfer of guardianship due to death of the adoptive parent(s), an adoptive parent or court appointed guardian may request a Technical Amendment to the approved Adoption Assistance Agreement be submitted to change the name of the adoptive parent(s) or to acknowledge the transfer of guardianship.
Both the local social services official and OCFS must review all requests for approval. If a request for change to the adoption assistance agreement is denied, the adoptive parent can request a fair hearing. See Question #22 for information regarding the fair hearing process in New York.
22. What are the exact steps a family must go through to access the fair hearing/appeal process in New York?
Adoptive parents have the right to request a fair hearing when a decision by the Office of Children and Family Services or local department of social services affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. Any person affected by a decision of a social services official not to approve an adoption assistance payment, or by an inadequate or inappropriate payment amount, or the failure to issue a written disapproval of the completed agreement within thirty days after it was filed with the social services agency, may make a request to the OCFS for a fair hearing. The request must be made within sixty days after receipt of the written notice of disapproval of the adoption assistance or approval at a lower rate, or when more than thirty days have elapsed without a decision from the State Adoption Services. The following issues may be raised at such hearings:
- Whether the social services official has improperly denied an application for payments to be made, including the failure of the social services official to issue a determination of an application within thirty days of its filing;
- Whether the social services official has determined the amount of payment to be made in violation of the law; or
- Whether the social services official has improperly discontinued payments made in the agreement.
The Office of Children and Family Services must uphold the denial if:
- The child for whom payments would be made is not a handicapped or hard-to-place child; or
- There is/was another approved adoptive parent(s) who is/was willing to accept the placement of the child without payment within 60 days of such denial and placement of the child with the other parent(s) would not be contrary to the best interests of the child.
A written notice of the hearing is sent to the prospective adoptive parents and their representatives at least six working days prior to the scheduled date of the hearing. OCFS must make a decision within thirty days after the fair hearing. An adoption assistance case may be Title IV-E eligible even if adoption assistance is not granted before finalization when an administrative hearing decision determines that an adoption assistance application was wrongfully denied. Requests for a fair hearing must be made in writing and addressed to:
New York State Office of Children and Family Services
Bureau of Special Hearings
52 Washington Street
Rensselaer, New York 12144
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.
If a child meets the narrow guidelines for this type of subsidy—a handicapping condition that a doctor certifies existed prior to finalization, was not known to the adoptive parent(s) at the time of the finalization, and was diagnosed after finalization—parent(s) may apply for a post-finalization subsidy using the standard adoption subsidy forms. Documentation is required.
System Operation and Program Funding
24. How is the subsidy program operated and funded in New York?
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.
The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 50.00% in New York. This is known as the Federal Financial Participation (FFP) rate. For non-IV-E children (in custody of the local commissioner of social services) adopted with subsidy, New York State bears 75 percent and the local district 25 percent of the applicable costs. In the case of non-IV-E children in the custody of a voluntary agency, the subsidy is 100 percent State-funded.
25. Below are other programs that may differentiate New York's adoption assistance program (including post adoption services) from others around the country.
When the person(s) with whom a subsidy agreement is made dies before the adoptive child reaches 21, maintenance subsidy payments will be continued to the court appointed legal guardian of the child until s/he reaches age 21. The adoption subsidy may be continued for an adoptee between the ages of 18 and 21 when the adoptive parent(s) die after the adoptee’s 18th birthday.
New York’s general adoption and specific adoption subsidy information is available at https://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/adopt
New York State’s Children’s Coalition for Children (NYSCCC) web site is an excellent source of adoption subsidy information— www.nysccc.org
The New York 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 $5,000 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 New York foster care system. For more information, go to https://www.statevoucher.org/state.xhtml?state=NY