Utah State Subsidy Profile
Updated draft • October 2014
(state review pending)
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
NACAC Subsidy Representative (parent/volunteer)
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
What Is Adoption Subsidy?
Parents who are thinking about or are in the process of adopting a child with special needs from foster care should know about adoption assistance (also known as adoption subsidy). Federal (Title IV-E) and state (often called non-IV-E) adoption assistance programs are designed to help parents meet their adopted children’s varied, and often costly, needs. Children can qualify for federal adoption assistance or state assistance, depending on the child’s history. Adoption subsidy policies and practices are, for the most part, dependent on the state in which the child was in foster care before the adoption.
Below is information related to definitions of special needs, benefits available, and procedures in Utah. 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 other states’ subsidy programs are available. If you have additional questions, please contact NACAC at 651-644-3036, 800-470-6665, or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have state-specific questions, please call your State Subsidy Contact Person or the NACAC Subsidy Representative (listed above) for more information.
For more information on Title IV-E eligibility, view our fact sheet Eligibility and Benefits for Federal Adoption Assistance.
Utah’s adoption resources on the web:
Utah’s state-specific medical assistance information:
Utah’s adoption assistance information:
Choose Subsidy after clicking on Adoptive Family Resources
Utah adoption-related statutes:
Utah Code 62A-4a-901 through 62A-4a-907
scroll down to 62A-4a-901 to 907
Utah Rules R512-43, Adoption Assistance:
Who Is Eligible for Adoption Assistance?
1. How does Utah define special needs to determine eligibility?
A child is determined to have special needs if he or she has at least one of the following needs or circumstances that may be a barrier to placement or adoption without financial assistance:
- Five years of age or older
- Member of a sibling group placed together for adoption
- Physical, emotional, or mental disability
2. Does the state-only funded adoption assistance program differ in any way from the Title IV-E program?
To qualify for the state adoption assistance program, the child must be in UT DCFS care.
3. Are children adopted from private agencies in Utah eligible for adoption assistance?
Only if the child is SSI-eligible and meets the state definition of a child with special needs or the child was eligible in a previous Title IV-E adoption.
What Supports and Services Are Available?
4. What is the maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Utah?
The adoption assistance rate is based on child’s level of need, which is determined by the regional adoption assistance committee. For children who are considered Level 1 the adoption assistance rate is up to 40 percent of the foster care rate. For Level 2 the rate is between 20 to 70 percent of the foster care rate, and for Level 3 the rate is between 50 and 100 percent of the foster care rate.
Level 1 applies to a child with a minimal number and severity of needs. It is expected that most of these needs will improve with time, and significant improvement may be anticipated over the course of the adoption. For children ages five and under issues may include, but are not limited to feeding problems, aggressive or self destructive behavior, victimization from sexual abuse, victimization from physical abuse; or no more than one developmental delay in fine motor, gross motor, cognitive or social/emotional domains. For children ages 6 to 18, issues may include but are not limited to social conflict, physical aggression, minor sexual reactivity, need for education resource classes or tutoring, some minor medical problems requiring ongoing monitoring, or mental health issues requiring time-limited counseling.
Level 2 applies to a child with a moderate number and severity of needs. It is expected that a number of the child’s issues are long-term in nature and the adoptive family and child will be working with them over the course of the adoption, and some may intensify or worsen if not managed carefully. Outside provider support will probably continue to be needed during the course of the adoption. For children ages five and under, issues may include, but are not limited to developmental delays in two or more areas of fine motor, gross motor, cognitive or social/emotional domains; diagnosis of failure to thrive; moderate genetic disease or physically disabling condition; or physical aggression expressed several times a week, including superficial injury to self or others.
For children ages 6 to 18, issues may include, but are not limited to daily social conflict or serious withdrawn behavior; moderate risk of harm to self or others due to physically aggressive behavior; emotional or psychological issues with a DSM-V diagnosis requiring ongoing counseling sessions over an extended period of time; moderate sexual reactivity or perpetration; chronic patterns of being destructive to items or property; cruelty to animals; mild mental retardation or autism, with ongoing need for special education services; and physical disabilities requiring ongoing attendant care or other caretaker support.
Level 3 applies to a child with a significant number or high severity of needs. It is expected that these issues will not moderate and may become more severe over time. The child may require some personal attendant care or specialized care outside of the home, when prescribed by a professional. For children ages five and under issues may include, but are not limited to severe life threatening medical issues; moderate or severe retardation or autism; serious developmental delays in three or more areas of fine or gross motor, cognitive or social/emotional domains; anticipated need for ongoing support for activities of daily living, such as feeding, dressing and self care; or high levels of threat for harm to self or others due to aggressive behaviors.
For children ages 6 to 18 issues may include, but are not limited to: moderate or severe retardation or autism; life threatening medical issues; severe physical disabilities not expected to improve over time; predatory sexual perpetration; high risk of serious injury to self or others due to aggressive behavior; serious attempts or threats of suicide; severely inhibiting DSM-IV diagnosed mental health disorders diagnosed within the past year that limit normal social and emotional development, such as an Axis 5 GAF score under 50; or need for ongoing self contained or special education services.
A child's need level may be increased in severity by one level if the adoption assistance committee determines that the child's permanency may be compromised due to financial barriers to the child's adoption and if at least one of the following circumstances apply:
- The child has been in state custody for longer than 24 months.
- The child is nine years of age or older.
- The child is part of a sibling group of three or more children being placed together for the purposes of adoption.
5. Does Utah provide specialized rates (based on the extraordinary needs of the child or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child)?
See question 4
Level 1 Foster Care
Level 1 adoption subsidy (0-40%)
Level 2 Foster Care
Level 2 adoption subsidy (20-70%)
Level 3 Foster Care
Level 3 adoption subsidy (50-100%)
6. When do adoption assistance payments begin?
Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoption placement if:
- child is legally free for adoption
- adoptive home is approved
- adoption proceedings are initiated, and
- adoption assistance agreement has been signed
Adoption assistance can be also be secured after adoption finalization when circumstances warrant (see question 18).
7. When a child turns 18, which benefits, if any, continue?
Typically adoption assistance and benefits continue only until the child reaches age 18. Monthly assistance may continue until the child is 21 years old if the regional adoption assistance committee has determined that the youth has a mental or physical disability that warrants continuing assistance. 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.
8. Does Utah offer deferred adoption assistance agreements (agreements where initial monthly maintenance amount is $0 for children at risk of developing special needs later)?
9. What Medicaid services are available in Utah?
- Hospital—inpatient and outpatient
- PodiatristX-ray (radiology and laboratory)
- Medical supplies
- Medical transportation
- Mental health
- Psychologist—Psychological testing and individual therapy over three sessions require prior authorization. Individual psychotherapy and day treatment require prior authorization
- Nursing home
- Skilled nursing facility
- Intermediate care facility
- Home health care
- Physical therapy
- Dental—emergency treatment, root canal treatment, all fillings, stainless steel crowns
- Child Health Evaulation and Care Recipients (Children under 21)
- Vision care
- Certified nurse midwife
- Pharmacy (drugs)
The state contact person is Cosette Mills, 801-538-4058. For more information, visit http://health.utah.gov/medicaid/.
10. What medical benefits are available for state-funded children? (Children who have federally funded/Title IV-E adoption assistance are automatically eligible for Medicaid benefits.)
Although Utah has not given blanket Medicaid eligibility for all children receiving adoption assitance, in general, most non-IV-E children receive Medicaid coverage. By state plan, 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 qualify them as medically needy.
11.What mental health services are available?
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 also offered under the state Medicaid plan and include diagnostic and rehabilitative services, individual and family psychotherapy, skills training and development, physician services, and prescription drugs.
See a listing and description of mental health services at www.health.utah.gov/medicaid/pdfs/mentalhealth.pdf .
Additional information is available at www.utdcfsadopt.org, at the Mental Health link under the Adoptive Family Resources option.
Please note that not all services are available in all cases. Families should contact their adoption assistance worker or medical assistance specialist for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.
12. In Utah, what nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption may be reimbursed?
Families can apply for reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses (travel costs, home study costs, attorney fees, etc.) up to $2,000 per child. Applications must be received 30 days before finalization so that the application can be approved before finalization as required by law.
13. Is respite care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access respite care?
Hourly in-home respite care is available to families who adopt from DCFS, and is provided through contracted private community agencies throughout the state. Adoptive parents must pay a co-pay of $5 per hour (regardless of the number of children in the home). DCFS Post Adoption Specialists may be 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.
In addition, many private organizations respite options. Additional information is available by search for Utah programs at the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service: www.respitelocator.org
14. Is residential treatment available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access residential treatment services?
In Utah, Medicaid pays the treatment of approved residential treatment programs. The parent may use the monthly adoption assistance to cover the maintenance portion of residential care. Families should contact their local DCFS office for more information.
15. What other post-adoption services are available in Utah and how do families find out more about them?
Utah may provide time-limited funding for extraordinary, infrequent, or uncommon documented needs not covered by monthly adoption assistance or Medicaid. The funding is provided through state-funded Supplemental Adoption Assistance Agreements that are for 6 to 12 months. Requests for up to $3,000 can be approved by an agency, up to $10,000 by a Regional Adoption Assistance Committee, and requests of more than $10,000 are reviewed by a statewide Supplemental Adoption Assistance Committee with representatives from all five of Utah’s regional offices.
Other post-adoption services in Utah are provided by DCFS, contracted agencies, and parent organizations. Post-adoption services may include:
- Information and referral
- Quarterly newsletter
- Lending library of books and audio recordings
- Educational classes
- Support groups
- Parent chat room
- Training trainers programs
- Search and reunion assistance/information
Utah contracts with the Adoption Exchange for many services. Parents can find additional information at the Adoptive Family Resoruces link on www.utdcfsadopt.org. The site has information, national links, and local resources.
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 support groups.
Please note that not all services may be available in all cases. Parents should contact their adoption assistance worker or post-adoption services contact for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.
16. If the assistance listed above in questions 13 to 15 are for specific services, must these services be explicitly identified in the adoption assistance agreement?
No. If families request additional assistance, the Regional Adoption Assistance Committee would make a determination based on the request and available funding.
What Should Families Know about Applying for Adoption assistance?
17. Who makes the final determination on an adoption assistance agreement?
The regional adoption assistance committee is responsible for approving adoption assistance agreements, approving renegotiations, reconsiderations, and the reinstatement of adoption assistance.
18. How do families request adoption assistance after finalization of an adoption?
Families who request adoption assistance after adoption finalization must request an administrative hearing according to the steps specified in question 20. The parents must be able to show that one of the following occurred for the request to be considered:
- 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
- a denial of assistance was based upon a means test of the adoptive family
- an erroneous state determination was used to find a child ineligible for assistance
- the state or adoptive agency failed to advise the adoptive parents of the availability of assistance
How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?
19. Can adoptive parents ask to change an adoption assistance agreement?
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.
Local DCFS offices are listed at www.hsdcfs.utah.gov/locations.htm .
20. What steps does a family go through to appeal an adoption assistance decision 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. Every adoption assistance decision includes notification of the right to a fair hearing (also known as an appeal) and an explanation of the hearing process. Parents can return the notification to the agency indicating they wish to request a fair hearing.
Additional information is available in the Utah Administrative Code for a complete outline of fair hearing process and procedures under UT Admin Code R497-100: http://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r497/r497-100.htm (then go to Appeal Procedures).
What Else Do Families Need to Know?
21. How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in Utah?
The program is state supervised/state administered, which 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 a regional director who then reports to one state-level administrator.
The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 70.56% in Utah. This is known as the Federal Financial Participation or FFP rate. The remaining cost of the program is funded with state dollars.
22. Does Utah operate a subsidized guardianship program?
Yes. The child may receive Medicaid and the family may receive 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, parents can contact Judy Hull at 801-556-5246 or email@example.com.
23. Does Utah offer a tuition waiver program?
No, but the state does offer the Chafee Educational and Trainnig Voucher program. Under the program, youth who were 16 years or older when they were adopted from DCFS are eligible for up to $5,000 per year while in college or a vocational or technical training program. The voucher application may be obtained from the DCFS regional Transition to Adult Living coordinator or:
Utah Division of Human Services
Division of Children and Family Services
120 North 200 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84103
24. What else differentiates Utah’s adoption assistance program from others around the country?
Each year, Utah sends a letter 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.