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Ohio State Subsidy Profile

Updated August 2009

State Subsidy Contact Person

Dan Shook
Office for Children and Families
4200 E Fifth Ave
Columbus, OH  43219
Phone: 614-752-0619
Fax: 614-752-0656

NACAC Subsidy Representatives (parent/volunteer)

Tim O'Hanlon
1371 Virginia Avenue
Columbus, OH 43212
Home: 614-299-0177
Fax: 614-728-8366

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:

Ohio’s state-specific medical assistance links:

and Consumer Information:

Ohio’s adoption assistance links: 
(See the ODJFS Factsheet on Adoption, Supporting Families after Finalization, Adoption Subsidies)

Ohio Revised Code 5153.163

Ohio's Administrative Code 5101:2-44 and 5101:2-49

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. Six years of age or older
  2. Member of a minority or ethnic group
  3. Member of a sibling group of two or more children who should be placed together (Should be). The child is in a sibling group of three or more or is being adopted as part of a previously adopted biological sibling group of three or more children that makes it difficult to place the child for adoption without the provision of adoption assistance (AA).
  4. Medical condition, physical impairment, mental retardation or developmental disability
  5. Emotional disturbance or behavioral problem
  6. Social or medical history or biological family background which includes a social or medical history that may place the child at risk of acquiring a medical condition, a physical, mental or developmental disability or an emotional disorder
  7. In the permanent custody of a public children services agency or private child-placing agency for more than one year
  8. Previous adoption disruption or multiple placements
  9. In the home of his/her prospective adoptive parent(s) as a foster child for at least one year and would experience severe separation and loss if placed in another setting due to his/her significant emotional ties with these foster parent(s) as determined and documented by a qualified mental health professional

Note: Children must be legally free for adoption and in the custody of the state of Ohio/public children services agency or private child-placing agency to be eligible for adoption.

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 a public children services agency or private child-placing agency. The child must also be under the age of eighteen, or between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one with a mental or physical disability as diagnosed by a qualified professional, placed in an adoptive home approved by a public children services agency, private child placing agency or private non-custodial agency. 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. The adoptive family must have the capability of providing the permanent family relationships needed by the child in all areas except financial need, in need of services beyond the economic resources of the adoptive family and that it would not be in the best interest of the child to place the child with the prospective adoptive parent(s) without providing assistance.

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

Basic rates (upper limits)—federal IV-E and state subsidy: $240/month

Note: Counties may supplement the non-federal share beyond $240 up to the family foster care limit. The state will provide the non-federal match for adoption assistance payments at or below $240 per month per child, beginning with the September subsidy payments. County agencies will be responsible for providing the non-federal match amount for payments above $240.

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

These rates are based on the individual needs of each child and circumstances of the family. The rates are not to exceed the foster care maintenance rate and are set at the county level.

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.

Reimbursement is available for: adoptive home studies; legal fees and court costs; transportation, meals, and lodging; reasonable adoption fees; medical exams for the adoptive parents; expenses related to the supervision of the adoptive placement; and other nonrecurring expenses subject to prior approval by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) for services which are directly related to a special needs adoption.

International adoptees are potentially eligible. The child must be determined a child with special needs. A child is considered special needs if the public children services agency determines the child cannot be returned to the home of his parents. This determination is the public children services agency's verification of the existence of an order from a court of competent jurisdiction terminating parental rights, or; the existence of a petition for the termination of parental rights, or; a signed relinquishment of the child by the birth parents. The application for reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses must be submitted to the public children services agency for approval prior to legalization of the adoption. The application cannot be approved retroactively.

The reimbursement limit is $1,000 per child.

6. What Medicaid services are available in Ohio?

  • Physician services
  • Hospitalization
  • Lab work
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Dental services
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • EPSDT (Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment) services

The state contact person is Barbara Edwards, Deputy Director, Office of Medicaid (614-644-0140).

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

Children who are receiving a state adoption subsidy can be found eligible by the county department of human services for covered families and children (CFC) Medicaid, based upon the child's income, resources and special needs for medical, mental health or rehabilitative care. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services works cooperatively with public children services agencies and the county department of job and family services (CDJFS) in determining Medicaid eligibility. Children placed by either a public or private agency may be eligible. Special needs children receiving a state adoption subsidy receive the same Medicaid coverage as IV-E eligible children.

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

Public mental health services for children in Ohio are administered by the Department Jobs and Family Services through their Medicaid program and other sources. Mental health services include the following examples: hospitalization, physician services, prescription drugs, and mental health services. Specific mental health services include:

  1. Medical and surgical services, including respite care if required
  2. Psychiatric, psychological, and counseling services, including respite if required
  3. Maintenance costs as part of a residential treatment program

PASSS may also be used as another source of funding for children’s mental health services in Ohio. PASSS provides funding to families for the reasonable costs of allowable services to address the child's physical or developmental handicap or mental or emotional condition. The child’s condition may have existed before the adoption petition was filed; or developed after the adoption petition was filed and can be attributed to factors in the child's pre-adoption background or medical history or the biological family's background or medical history.

See the Ohio Department of Mental Health link:

Ohio Medicaid Programs fact sheet link:

National Institute of Mental Health children and adolescent’s mental health link:

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?

See Question #10 for information on Ohio’s Post Adoption Special Services Subsidy (PASSS) Program.

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

Ohio offers a program known as Post Adoption Special Services Subsidy (PASSS). PASSS is negotiated after adoption finalization and provides funding to families for the reasonable costs of allowable services to address the child's physical or developmental handicap or mental or emotional condition. The child’s condition may have existed before the adoption petition was filed; or developed after the adoption petition was filed and can be attributed to factors in the child's pre-adoption background or medical history or the biological family's background or medical history. Limitations include eligibility criteria and state funding ability. Funding is only available when the assistance sought exceeds the adoptive family’s private resources and assistance is capped at $10, 000 per fiscal year. Families may request an additional $5,000 per child, per fiscal year under if extraordinary circumstances apply. Applications for assistance are reviewed by a Review Committee and can be approved in whole or in part, based on the needs of the child and the circumstances of the adoptive family. An adoptive family may access up to $15,000 per year in PASSS funding.

PASSS funds may be used for the following: psychological/psychiatric therapy (individual or family counseling) speech therapy, customized physical equipment/devices, medical supplies, rehabilitative services, and surgical costs. If assistance is not granted, or not granted in the amount requested, adoptive parents may request a fair hearing. See Question #22 for information regarding fair hearings.

Respite Care— Yes. Medical and mental health respite services may be covered under the PASSS program. Families should contact their Public Children's Services Agency (PCSA) worker in their county for more information on how to access this service. In addition, many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Ohio’s respite programs, link:

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?

There is a separate application form for PASSS. The application/agreement form for PASSS requires specificity regarding the problem and service or array of services requested to deal with the need.

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

PASSS does cover some residential care, based upon approval of the PCSA Review Committee. The limited amount of funding available may require the agency to seek coordinated funding from other systems serving children, especially the mental health and mental retardation systems. Families may also receive funding to support residential care from individual county agencies, through interagency collaboration, and from the State Interdepartmental Cluster if cases are referred by county councils or clusters.

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

Yes, Ohio offers an agreement with a zero payment. Currently in Ohio if a child has a substantial risk, there is an adoption assistance agreement with zero payment and the child is not eligible for a Medical card until the condition manifests.

14. Does Ohio operate a subsidized guardianship program?


Programmatic Procedures

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

Ohio's child protection program is a state-supervised/county-administered program. Eligibility determination is the responsibility of the PCSA in each of Ohio's 88 counties. The PASSS program requires a PCSA to establish a Review Committee. One member of the committee must be a professional who is not part of the PCSA system. The Review Committee plays a major role in recommending the amount of subsidy provided for the services requested by the family, but not in determining basic eligibility.

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

Family income is not considered when determining Title IV-E eligibility for children, although it is a factor in determining the amount of assistance. Income scales are currently used in determining eligibility for state-funded adoption assistance. Parents are eligible for state adoption maintenance if their gross income does not exceed 120 percent of the median income of a family of the same size. State law requires that PASSS eligibility be related to the fact that needed expenditures are “beyond the means” of the adoptive family. Income scales are not used and eligibility is a case-by-case judgment made by the PCSA.

17. When do subsidy payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoption placement.

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

Private agencies follow the same procedures in establishing subsidy as the public children services agency. The private child-placing agency must establish eligibility through the public agencies. The public children services agency or private child placing agency must determine that the child cannot or should not be returned to the home of his parents. They must also determine that there are specific factors or conditions which indicate that in order to complete or sustain the adoption or ensure that the child's special needs are met, it is not in the child's best interest to be placed with an adoptive parent(s) without the provision of adoption assistance and/or medical assistance. The public children services agency or private child placing agency must document that a reasonable but unsuccessful effort was made to place the child with an appropriate adoptive parent(s) without providing adoption assistance or medical assistance.

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

State-Funded Subsidies—Payments cease when a child reaches 18 (or 21 if s/he has a mental or physical handicap).

Federal Adoption Subsidy—Payments cease when a child reaches 18 unless the child is determined to have a mental or physical disability, in which case payments would continue until that person is 21.

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

Determination of continuing eligibility for IV-E and state-funded adoption maintenance must be completed every year or whenever there is significant change in a family’s situation. Eligibility for PASSS must be re-determined every state fiscal year.

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

Adoptive parents can request a change in the adoption assistance agreement at any time by contacting the PCSA that administers the adoption assistance agreement. The parent would contact their local PCSA and request the change to the adoption assistance agreement. Changes are made by amendments to the agreement or modification of existing amendments in the adoption assistance agreement. If the parent and the agency cannot agree on a negotiated amount for the amendment to the agreement that is being requested, the parent can request a state hearing. An adoptive parent that does not receive a requested change may request a fair hearing pursuant to division level designation of the Administrative Code. See Question #22 for information regarding fair hearings.

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

If an adoptive family receives a notice denying the requested amount of the adoption assistance, reducing the assistance, terminating assistance, or services, the notice will contain a form to request a fair hearing. Parents are directed to fill out the request form and mail it to State Hearings at the address listed below. Families may also fax hearing requests to State Hearings at 614.728.9574. Requests for fair hearing must be received within fifteen (15) days of the mailing date on the notice. If an adoptive parent receives a notice that assistance or services will be reduced, restricted, or terminated, the action will not be taken until the hearing is decided if the hearing request is received within the fifteen (15) days. To request a fair hearing, a family may call or write the local agency or write to the following address:

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, State Hearings
30 East Broad Street, 31st Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215-3414

Further Information:

When will the hearing be held?
After the bureau of state hearings receives a request for a fair hearing, the adoptive family is sent a notice giving the date, time, and place of the hearing. This notice will be sent at least ten (10) days before the hearing. The notice also will tell parents what to do if they cannot come to the hearing as scheduled.

Where are hearings held?
Hearings are usually held at the local agency. If parents are unable to go there, the hearing may be held some other place convenient to the family and to the other people involved. If parents want the hearing held somewhere other than the local agency, they are directed to inform the agency of this on the hearing request.

Postponement of the hearing
If a parent cannot come to the hearing as scheduled, or if they need more time to prepare, they can ask the hearings section for a postponement. In the adoption assistance program, parents must present a good reason in order to postpone a hearing.

If a parent does not attend the hearing
The Bureau of State Hearings will issue adoptive parents a dismissal notice if they do not come to the hearing. If a parent wishes to continue with a hearing request, they must contact the hearings section within ten (10) days and explain why they did not come to the hearing. The hearings section will decide whether the adoptive parent had a good reason (show good cause) that prevented them from attending the hearing. If a parent does not call within ten days and show good cause, the hearing will be dismissed and the adoptive parent will lose the hearing. The local agency will then go forward with the action it was planning to take. If an adoptive parent disagrees with the dismissal, the dismissal notice will inform the parent how to ask for an administrative appeal of the dismissal.

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 should first contact the county in which they reside. If the applicant does not reside in Ohio, and the child was placed by an Ohio Public Children Services Agency (PCSA), Private Child Placing Agency (PCPA), or a Private Non-Custodial Agency (PNA), an application is submitted to the county where the placing agency is located.

Within forty-five (45) days of submission of a completed application and supporting documentation, written notice of the decision shall be provided to the applicant by the PCSA. The notice shall contain a reason for denial if funding is not provided and upon the applicant's request, a state hearing shall be granted.

System Operation and Program Funding

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

Ohio is operated under a state supervised/county administered system. This means that the state office makes policy and indirectly supervises the county agencies. The county agencies work directly with families and make eligibility decisions. The federal participation rate for Ohio’s Title IV-E maintenance assistance payments is 63.02%.

The first $240 of a monthly IV-E adoption assistance payment is paid entirely with federal and state funds (i.e., federal share = 60%, state share = 40%). Federal reimbursement also covers 60 percent of any monthly amount over $240. However, county agencies are responsible for the non-federal portion of each dollar over $240 per month.

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

Ohio operates the Post-Adoption Special Services Subsidy (PASSS), which is discussed throughout this profile.

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