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South Dakota State Subsidy Profile

Updated November 2007

State Subsidy Contact Person

Patricia Reiss
Department of Social Services (DSS)
Kneip Building, 700 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501
Phone: 605-773-3227
Fax: 605-773-6834

NACAC Subsidy Representative (parent/volunteer)

Patty Hjermstad
Parents of Adopted Children (PAC)
605 Thorson Ave
Florence, SD 57235
Phone: 605-758-2490
E-mail: or

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: —with links to the following topics:

  • Adopting through DSS
  • Adoption Records
  • Adoption Resources
  • Adoption Subsidy Program
  • DSS children waiting for Adoption
  • FAQ’s
  • Interstate Compact
  • Voluntary Adoption Registry

South Dakota’s state-specific medical assistance: and

South Dakota’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. Race or religion
  3. Member of a sibling group to be placed together for adoption
  4. Physical, emotional, neurological, or intellectual handicap or problem
  5. Need of a prosthesis, extensive, on-going, or anticipated medical care, or therapy for speech, physical, or psychological problems
  6. Adoption by foster parents with whom the child is living is the only appropriate permanency plan

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

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

In order to be eligible for state-funded adoption assistance a child must be a special needs child as defined above, in the custody of the SD Department of Social Services and legally free for adoption.

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

Basic Rates:  







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


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 costs include attorney fees; travel expenses; hotel; home study; medical/psychological testing; supervision of placement; and court costs. Workers inform adoptive families of the program.

The state has never had an international adoptee apply; he/she would have to prove Title IV-E eligibility. All special needs children are eligible.

The reimbursement limit is $1,500 per child.

6. What Medicaid services are available in South Dakota?

Call the Medical Services line (605-773-3495) for more information.

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

Yes. Coverage is the same for both groups of children.

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

Public mental health services for children in South Dakota are administered by the Department of Social Services, Medical Assistance.  Services include the following examples: psychiatric and psychological evaluations, individual-group-family psychotherapy for the care and treatment of mental illness or disorders, in-patient and outpatient hospitalization, and prescription medication.

Children are eligible for what are known in South Dakota as Healthy Kids Klub checkups.  These checkups help prevent health problems from occurring or help keep health problems from becoming worse.  The Healthy Kids Klub covers screening and diagnostic services to determine physical or mental status and treatment to correct or eliminate defects or chronic conditions.  The Klub also covers nutritional therapy, treatment for alcohol and drug chemical dependency, and inpatient psychiatric care. Several of these services require prior authorization from the Department of Social Services (State Office).

DSS local offices:

Medical Services recipient information: and

Covered Services:  or phone Medical Services: 605-773-3495.

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?

South Dakota offers what is known as Special Nonmedical Subsidies. Funding is available for expenses incurred for services in care of the adopted child. Services include the following examples: expenses incurred in transporting the child to medical care, special education, and psychological treatment; psychological/psychiatric testing and treatment, special education necessary to meet psychological or emotional needs preexisting adoption finalization; family training or education needed to address the child’s special needs or to provide for their care; and expenses for a parent to take a child for medical treatment when the facility is remote from the location of the adoptive home.

South Dakota also offers what is known as Medical and Surgical Subsidies. Funding is available for pre-existing physical conditions that existed prior to adoption finalization and is only available once the adoptive family has exhausted all insurance resources. Services include the following examples: prescription medication, physician service, hospitalization/hospital services, drugs or prostheses. If necessary services are not covered under South Dakota’s state medical plan, need for such services must be listed in the adoption assistance agreement to be eligible for funding.

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 South Dakota are administered by the Department of Social Services (DSS), Office of Child Protection Services (CPS) through DSS, contracted agencies, and parent groups. Post adoption services are provided on a case-by case basis and include the following examples:

  1. Information and referral
  2. Educational programs (funding to attend)
  3. Support groups
  4. Therapeutic intervention
  5. Advocacy
  6. Respite Care
  7. Residential treatment
  8. Mediation/search services (passive registry available)

Services include extensive psychological supports, such as psychiatric evaluation, psychological evaluation, social assessment (child and family), and Marschack Interaction Methods In Home Family Dynamics Assessment. Therapy is provided, including: individual therapy, family therapy, multi-family therapy, and group therapy for the adopted child.  In addition, adoptive families’ travel expenses to secure services are covered, including: lodging, meals, mileage, training therapy materials, and school consultation.

South Dakota has contracted with the Children’s Home Society to provide evaluations and therapy for adopted children and their families. To apply for post adoption services, contact the Children's Home Society (CHS).  and  Or phone, in Black Hills 605-343-2811, or in Sioux Falls 605-334-6004.

For search/mediation information, see the Voluntary Adoption Registry:

and the Opening Adoption Records:

Parent groups also provide post adoptions support.  The Family Support Online in Sioux Falls is a new group that offers on-line support and is comprised of forty percent Native American families. or phone: 605-335-2776.

Another parent organization is Parents of Adopted Children (PAC), offering a mentoring program and workshops. PAC is located in Parkston, South Dakota, or phone: 605-782-0782.

Respite Care— The Department of Human Services has a respite program to provide respite care for adoptive families ($500 per year, per child).

And, see the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate South Dakota’s respite programs,

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

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


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

Families must make a request for residential care in writing. Funding for care is generally time-limited (initially 3-6 months, followed by a case review). Decisions are based upon severity of need.  Send documentation as to need, duration, and cost to:

Patricia Reiss
Child Protective Services
700 Governor's Drive
Pierre, SD  57501                             

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

Yes, South Dakota offers deferred adoption assistance.  South Dakota will write an adoption assistance agreement and put on hold as per an adoptive parent’s request.

14. Does South Dakota operate a subsidized guardianship program?

Yes. The program was created in 1984.  A subsidy is available whenever it appears that a family is available for a child in custody but financial constraints would prohibit guardianship.  Family income is considered.  The following are excluded from consideration of subsidized guardianship:

  1. Medical subsidies
  2. Children under 12 years of age
  3. Children who have not been in foster care for at least six months

For more information contact Stephanie Roberts, program specialist at 605-773-3227.

Programmatic Procedures

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

The family services specialist negotiates the subsidy amount with the adoptive family, not to exceed the basic foster care rate.  Subsidy is reviewed by the adoption Supervisor and then forward on to state office.  The Division Director of Child Protection Services signs off on all subsidy agreements.

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

Family income, resources, and obligations can be considered in determining subsidy amounts.

17. When do subsidy payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoption placement.

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

Yes—but only for children who are IV-E eligible.

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

If the child is still in high school and living at home, the subsidy may be extend past age 18.

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

The subsidy is written until the child's 18th birthday.

The department may terminate an adoption subsidy agreement upon 60 days written notice to the adoptive parents if: (a) the adoptive parents fail to complete legal adoption within two years after the effective date of subsidy payment; (b) the subsidy is no longer needed and this fact is determined by the department; (c) the child is receiving benefits from another source.

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

Adoptive parents can request a change in the adoption assistance agreement whenever there is a change in the circumstances of the family or the needs of the child. Decision are made on a case-by-case basis to pay for such needs as residential care and payment is available for South Dakota adoption assistance children only.  To request an amendment to the adoption assistance agreement, the adoptive family must submit a written request to their adoption assistance worker.  The Administrator and the Adoption Program Specialist consider the request for change.  DSS local offices:

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

Adoptive parents can request a fair hearing whenever there is disagreement with a Department of Social Services decision that affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits.  To request a fair hearing, submit a written request to

Administrative Hearings
700 Governors Drive
Pierre, South Dakota 57501

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.

For children who are Title IV-E eligible, the family must request a subsidy in writing from the department.  By federal guidelines, the department denies the request and informs the family that they may then request a fair hearing.  A fair hearing is scheduled and is often a non-adversarial process.  If the fair hearing examiner finds that the child is in fact eligible for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance, a subsidy is negotiated with the family.               

In order to start the process, families can contact Patricia Reiss at 605-773-3227.

System Operation and Program Funding

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

The program is state supervised/state administered. This means that both policy and eligibility decisions are made by personnel at the state office.  Seven districts carry out the directives.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 53.54% in South Dakota. This is known as the Federal Financial Participation (FFP) rate.

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


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