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Utah State Subsidy Profile

Updated January 2009

State Subsidy Contact Person

Ms. Marty Shannon
Department of Human Services
Division of Child and Family Services
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
Phone: 801-540-0833

NACAC Subsidy Representative (parent/volunteer)

Shelley Horel
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Cell: 801-870-9454

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:

Utah’s state-specific medical assistance:

Utah’s adoption assistance:
See list of terms beneath “Adoptive Family Resources ” for “Subsidy.”

Utah Code 62A-4a-901 through 62A-4a-907

  1. Scroll down to Title 62A and click on it.
  2. Scroll down to Title 62A Chapter 04a and click on it.
  3. Scroll down to 62A-4a-901

Utah Rules R512-43, 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. Five years of age or older
  2. Member of a sibling group placed together for adoption
  3. Physical, emotional, or mental handicap and under the age of eighteen

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 and have been in the custody of the state of Utah.

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

The maximum rate is equal to the child’s rate in foster care, up to $28.25 per day.  Most adoption subsidies are considerable less than the maximum rate.

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

The state will go above the standard base rate amount to assist the family if the child's medical, behavioral, or emotional needs require extensive supervision. For instance, this may include children with moderate to serious special needs such as prior residential placements, extensive learning disabilities, low IQ, physical disabilities, or emotional issues such as hyperactivity, post-traumatic stress disorder, oppositional behavior, attachment disorder, or other psychiatric disorders that may lead to adoption dissolution or disruption.

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 can apply for reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses (travel, home study, attorney fees, etc.) up to $2,000.  Families are informed of this possibility during the home study process.  Applications must be received 30 days prior to finalization so that the application can be approved prior to finalization as required by law.

6. What Medicaid services are available in Utah?

  • Hospital—Inpatient and Outpatient
  • Physician
  • Podiatrist
  • X-ray (Radiology and Laboratory)
  • Medical Supplies
  • Medical Transportation
  • Mental Health
  • Psychologist—Psychological testing and individual therapy over 3 sessions require prior authorization. Individual psychotherapy and day treatment require prior authorization
  • Nursing Home
  • Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)
  • Intermediate Care Facility (ICF)
  • Retardation (ICF/MR)
  • Speech
  • Audiology
  • Home Health
  • Physical Therapy
  • Dental—Emergency treatment, root canal treatment, all fillings, stainless steel crowns.
  • CHEC Recipients (Children under 21)
  • Vision Care
  • Certified Nurse Midwife
  • Pharmacy (Drugs)

The state contact person is Cosette Mills, 801-538-4058.

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

The Medicaid State Plan indicates that Utah will only cover those non-Title IV-E children who qualified for Medicaid at the time of the adoption and who have medical or rehabilitative needs that will justify that the child is medically needy. Utah has not given blanket eligibility for all children in subsidized adoptions.  In general, however, most non-IV-E children receive Medicaid coverage.

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

Public mental health services for children in Utah are administered by the Department of Health through Public Mental Health Centers and their contracted providers. Mental health services are offered under the state Medicaid plan and include the following examples: diagnostic and rehabilitative services, individual and family psychotherapy, skills training and development, physician services, and prescription drugs.

Utah’s Medicaid: and a listing and description of its mental health services at

See also Utah’s Adoption Connection page under Adoptive Family Resources, Mental Health:

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?

Utah may provide time limited funding for extraordinary, infrequent, or uncommon documented needs not covered by a monthly subsidy or Medicaid. The funding is through state funded Supplemental Adoption Assistance Agreements that are for 6-12 months. Requests for up to $3,000 can be approved within an agency, up to $10,000 by a Regional Adoption Assistance Committee, and requests over $10,000 are sent to a state-wide Supplemental Adoption Assistance Committee comprised of representatives from all five of Utah’s regional offices.

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

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 Utah are administered by the DHS, Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) through DCFS, contracted agencies, and parent organizations. Post adoption services include the following examples:

  1. Information and referral
  2. Quarterly newsletter
  3. Lending library
  4. Educational classes
  5. Support groups
  6. Parent chat room
  7. Respite Care
  8. Training trainers programs
  9. Factsheets
  10. Search and Reunion assistance/information

Utah contracts with the Adoption Exchange for many services. Utah’s post adoption services through the Adoption Exchange:  See the column to the left under Adoptive Family Resources.  The quarterly newsletter directs parents to their post-adoption service worker for contact information to answer questions regarding post-adoption services.

Hourly in-home respite care is available to DCFS adoptive families, and was developed specifically for adoptive families.  The respite care is provided through contracted private community agencies throughout Utah.  There is a $5.00 per hour co-pay from the adoptive parents.  The co-pay includes the care of all the children in the home.    DCFS Post Adoption Specialists have been able to arrange for longer respite care stays depending on the adoptive family’s situation and available options in the community.  The availability of respite care differs considerably throughout the state.

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Utah’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?

No.  If additional assistance were requested by the adoptive family, the regional subsidy committee would make a determination based on the request and available funding.

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

In Utah, Medicaid pays the treatment of approved residential treatment programs and the parent may use the monthly subsidy to cover the maintenance portion of residential care. Families should contact their local DCFS office for further information.

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

Yes, Utah offers deferred adoption assistance.

14. Does Utah operate a subsidized guardianship program?

Yes. Families may receive a Medicaid card and a guardianship subsidy. The program is funded entirely with state funds. Some regions are currently not funding guardianship subsidies because of budget shortfalls.

For more information, contact Tanya Albornoz at 801-538-4100.

Programmatic Procedures

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

The Regional Adoption Committee is responsible for approving subsidy agreements, approving renegotiations, reconsiderations, and the reinstatement of subsidy.

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

The amount of subsidy is based on the child’s present and long-term treatment and care needs and available resources, including the family’s ability to meet the needs of the child.

17. When do subsidy payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin in Utah at adoption placement.  Adoption assistance can be also be secured after adoption finalization when circumstances warrant.

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

No, unless the child is SSI-eligible and meets the state definition of a child with special needs or was eligible in a previous Title IV-E adoption.

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

All subsidies and benefits continue only until the child reaches the age of 18.  Monthly assistance may continue until the child is 22 years old if they have a disability as defined by the Division of Services for People with Disabilities.  DCFS Post Adoption Specialists can work with an adoptive family to help develop a plan and arrange for community services that may be appropriate for adopted youth as they turn 18.

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

Utah sends a letter annually to parents of children receiving adoption assistance. The letter reminds the parents of the language in the Adoption Assistance Agreement to notify the State if there are changes in contact information or if the parents are no longer legally responsible for the child or providing care. The annual letter also notified the parent about the contact information for post adoption services, adoption assistance, and Medicaid. An annual Medicaid application is sent out yearly which is a way to confirm the parent continues to provide for the child.

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

Parents may call, send a letter, or make an in-person request of their adoption assistance worker to change their adoption assistance agreement at any time. Utah sends a letter annually to parents of children receiving adoption assistance. The letter reminds the parents of the language in the Adoption Assistance Agreement to notify the State if there are changes in contact information or if they are no longer legally responsible for the child or providing care. The annual letter also notifies the parent about contact information for post adoption services, adoption assistance, and Medicaid. Local DCFS offices can be located through the directory of offices:

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

Adoptive parents may send a written request for a fair haring to the Utah Department of Human Services any time an adoption assistance application is not acted upon promptly, a family is denied adoption assistance, adoption assistance is reduced, or adoption assistance is not funded at the requested rate. Notification of the right to a fair hearing (also known as an appeal) and an explanation of the hearing process are sent to the family.  Parents are directed to read the notification and send it back to the agency indicating they wish to request a fair hearing.

See the Utah Administrative Code (state law) for a complete outline of fair hearing process and procedures under UT Admin Code R994-406.  Appeal Procedures:

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 who request an adoption subsidy after the finalization of an adoption must request an administrative hearing according to the steps specified above (see question 22). The adoptive parents must be able to show that one of the following occurred in order for the post-adoptive request to be considered: (1) relevant facts regarding the child, the biological family, or the child’s background were known to the agency but were not presented to the adoptive parents prior to finalization; (2) a denial of assistance was based upon a means test of the adoptive family; (3) an erroneous state determination was utilized to find a child ineligible for assistance; or (4) the state or adoptive agency failed to advise the adoptive parents of the availability of assistance.

System Operation and Program Funding

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

The program is state supervised/state administered. This means that both policy and eligibility decisions are made by personnel at the state office. The state is divided into five regions, with regional offices across the state reporting to their regional director who then reports to one state level administrator.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 70.34% in Utah. 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 Utah's adoption assistance program from others around the country.

The Utah Foster Care Foundation has developed support group clusters throughout the state that include foster and adoptive parents. Many regions of the state also have adoptive parent (only) support group clusters.

The Utah Adoption Exchange web site ( has a post-adopt web site with information, national links, and local resources. They publish a post adoption resource booklet and quarterly newsletter to help adoptive families find helpful resources throughout the state. They also have a lending library with books and audiotapes on topics that may be helpful for adoptive families.

Utah ETV Program—Youth who were 16 years or older when they were adopted from DCFS are eligible for the Education and Tuition Voucher, which is up to $5,000 per year while in college or a vocational or technical training program. The voucher application may be obtained by contacting the DCFS regional Transition to Adult Living coordinator, or

Jane Lewis
Utah Division of Human Services
Division of Children and Family Services
120 North 200 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84103
Phone: 801-538-4100

In Utah, a taxpayer that adopts a child with special needs may claim a $1,000 refundable credit for each child adopted. This credit may only be claimed in the tax year the court issues the order granting the adoption and may not be carried forward or back.

To claim this credit, the adoption must occur in Utah and the child must meet one of the following conditions:

  • Be five years of age or older,
  • Be under the age of 18 with physical, emotional, or mental disability; or
  • Be a member of a sibling group (two or more persons) placed together for adoption.

Note: The requirement that the Utah Division of Child and Family Services have permanent custody of the child has been repealed.

Note: There is no form for this credit. Keep all related documents with your tax records.

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