Vermont State Subsidy Profile
Updated July 2010
State Subsidy Contact Person
Social Services Division
103 South Main Street
Waterbury, VT 05671-6531
Phone: 802-769-6385; Fax: 802-241-2407
NACAC Subsidy Representative (parent/volunteer)
Currently, there is no Vermont representative. If you or someone you know would like to volunteer to help families learn more about adoption assistance, please call Josh Kroll at NACAC, 651-644-3036 or email@example.com.
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 Vermont. 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.
Adoption resources on the web:
Vermont’s state-specific medical assistance:
Vermont’s adoption assistance:
http://dcf.vermont.gov/projectfamily/adopting/support (See adoption subsidy under Financial Support) and
http://michie.lexisnexis.com/vermont/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&cp= click on link Vermont Statutes Annotated; then on Title 15A Adoption Act
Family Service Policy Manual 193, Adoption Subsidy:
Who is Eligible for Adoption Assistance or Subsidy?
1. How does Vermont define special needs to determine eligibility?
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:
- Is four years of age or older
- Is of a racial or ethnic minority and is three years of age or older
- Is a member of a sibling group of two or more children being adopted by the same family
- Has a medical condition/disability
- Has a physical, mental, emotional or psychological disability
2. Does the state-only funded adoption assistance program differ in any way from the Title IV-E program?
To be eligible for state-funded adoption assistance a child must be a special needs child as defined above and in the care and custody of the state of Vermont.
3. Are children adopted from private agencies in Vermont eligible for adoption assistance?
Yes, but only if they are SSI eligible or the child of a child in foster care.
What Supports and Services Are Available?
4. What is the maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Vermont?
5. Does Vermont provide specialized rates (based on the extraordinary needs of the child or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child)?
See question 4 for the different rates. The leveling system is based on the skill, training, and experience of the parent needed when the child was in foster care, with Level I as least skilled, Level III most skilled.
For a small number of children with intensive medical, emotional, or behavioral needs, Vermont offers Individual Service Budgets when no other source of payment is available. We also have a specialized rate for children where the foster parent is providing a high level of service, transportation, visitations and supervison called a Caretakers Agreement.
If a child has been on one of these two types of enhancement while in foster care we will consider this in negociating an adoption subsidy rate.
6. When do adoption assistance payments begin?
Adoption assistance payments and benefits sometimes begin at the time of placement if the child is free for adoption. Typically, though, benefits begin when the adoption is finalized.
7. When a child turns 18, which benefits, if any, continue?
Assistance stops when a child reaches 18, unless the child has a mental or physical disability that warrants continuation of assistance to age 21. For children without a disability, benefits may continue beyond 18 if the child is still in high school.
8. Does Vermont offer deferred adoption assistance agreements (agreements where initial monthly maintenance amount is $0 for children at risk of developing special needs later)?
Yes. We will open a subsidy at zero for children at high risk of developing a special need. All other eligibility requirements must be met.
9. What Medicaid services are available in Vermont?
- Inpatient hospital
- Nursing home
- Outpatient services
- Emergency care
- Family planning
- Doctor—5 visits/month for routine check-ups, diagnostic tests, treatment, immunizations, and drugs that cannot be self-administered
- Mental hospital care—Medicaid covers medically necessary care in a mental hospital for persons under age 21. However, Vermont services children under the age of 18 in mental hospitals only when no appropriate alternative can be found.
- Service for persons with mental retardation (including care in intermediate care facilities
- Home health care—skilled nursing visits, aide visits, therapy visits, hospice care, other necessary supplies and appliances
- Vision—eye examinations by optometrists or ophthalmologists every two years.
- Dental—Most preventive and restorative care is covered including examinations, x-rays, cleaning, fillings, and sealants. Orthodontic care may be provided for children in certain situations.
- Mental health—psychotherapy, group therapy, day treatment, day hospital, chemotherapy, emergency care, evaluation, diagnosis, case management, and transportation
- Psychological and psychiatric services—psychotherapy by a private practicing psychologist or psychiatrist up to $500 per calendar year
- Chiropractic—only the treatment known as manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation. 10 treatments/year.
- Cosmetic surgery—only if necessary for prompt repair of accidental injury or to improve the function of a malformed body part
- Other covered services—lab tests ordered by a doctor; limited foot care from a podiatrist; medically necessary wheelchairs, braces, artificial limbs, and diabetic supplies; and professional (non-residential) services in approved alcohol and drug treatment centers
For persons under age 21 only:
- Hearing aids and exams
- Hearing aid repairs
- Children's health check-up services under the EPSDT program
- Smoking cessation products such as nicotine patches and nicorette gum
For more information, call 802-241-3978.
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.)
State-funded children receive the same services as other Title-IV-E funded children receive.
11. What mental health services are available?
Public mental health services for children in Vermont are administered by the Agency of Human Services, Department of Developmental and Mental Health Services (DDMHS) and may include:
- Core Capacity Services—immediate crisis response; clinic-based treatment; outreach treatment; family support; prevention, screening, referral and community consultation.
- Statewide Capacity Services—emergency or hospital diversion beds; intensive residential service, hospital inpatient services.
Children's Mental Health Services works with agencies in each region to assure delivery of effective behavioral health treatment and supports as well as prevention and early intervention services through a family-centered system of care for all children and families in the state. Services are available separately or in combination for a youth and the family, depending on their desires and needs.
Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Services:
DMHS Programs and Services:
Crisis Contact numbers:
12. In Vermont, what nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption may be reimbursed?
Parents may be reimburse for up to $2,000 per child for expenses directly related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs that have not been reimbursed from other sources or funds. They include reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court fees, attorney fees, costs of an adoption homestudy, health and psychological examinations, supervision of a placement before adoption, and the reasonable costs of lodging and food for the child or parents when necessary to complete the placement process.
Families must apply and be found eligible prior to finalization. Internationally adopted children are eligible if they meet all other program criteria.
13. Is child care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access child care?
Vermont families can receive help with childcare costs. If the provider the family uses charges more than what childcare services pays the family is responsible for the difference.
The family applies at the time of the adoption by completing an application for family support childcare. Income guidelines will be used only to assess the number of childcare hours needed. Families must apply annually for childcare.
14. Is respite care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access respite care?
There is limited respite care available through the Department of Mental Health. The family must fill out a request for services with their local county mental health clinic. In some situations the state has included respite in the adoption assistance agreement for a time-limited basis (isuch as 6 to 12 months), which can be added to existing agreements via therenegotiation during the annual recertification process.
Families who are at high risk of having a disrupted adoption can access services from the Vermont Adoption Consortium. The Vermont Adoption Consortium can offer respite funding only to families it is already serving.
Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. Search the Vermont options at the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service (http://www.respitelocator.org/).
15. Is residential treatment available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access residential treatment services?
To access residential care a family must work with community mental health. Through CMH a Local Interagency Team (LIT) will be formed including the family, case managers, Education, Social Services, Developmental Services and a representative from the Vermont Adoption Consortium, This group will review or obtain any evaluations/assessments needed to understand what the child and family need and develop a plan of care for the child and family. If residential is part of that plan a written request is sent from the local level to the case review committee (CRC) state level. CRC revies the appropriateness of the plan, the facility capacity to provide the needed treatment and how the cost will be shared.
Families will be asked to use some or all of their monthly adoption assistance to help offset the costs of residential placement. The decision on how the total cost will be covered is at the state level.
Families have the responsibility to contact the adoption unit before the child is placed out of their home to discuss what portion of the subsidy will be used to help with residential costs.
If a family makes a unilateral placement they are responsible for the total cost.
16. What other post-adoption services are available in Vermont and how do families find out more about them?
Vermont offers Payments for Special Services. Funding is available to provide support for specific special services, such as psychological care, psychiatric care, and dental and medical services. Funding is only available after adoptive parents have exhausted all resources, both public and private, including the family’s private health insurance. They access this by writing a letter to the adoption unit and making a request. The request should include the costs, what portion the family can pay, efforts made to find another source of payment, and any writtend medical or psychological evaluations recommending the service.
Post-adoption services in Vermont are administered by the Agency of Human Services, Department for Children and Families, Family Services Division. Services are contracted through a collection of private agencies and independent and parent organizations. Post-adoption services may include:
1. Information and referral
2. Educational programs
3. Educational materials
4. Support programs
5. Respite Care
6. Residential treatment
7. Therapeutic intervention
8. State Registry (mediation/search services)
The Parent to Parent Program connects families to services and to other families for support. The Vermont Adoption Consortium connects families to agencies that provide post-adoption support services.
Casey Family Services: Northeastern Family Institute (NIF)
White River Junction — Williston — 802-658-0040
800-607-1400 or 802-649-1400
Winooski — 800-244-1408 or 802-655-6688
Easter Seals Vermont Lund Family Center
Berlin — 802-223-4744 Burlington — 802-864-7467
Shelburne — 802-985-0158
Northeast Kingdom Human Svcs.
St. Johnsbury — 800-649-0118
Newport — 802-334-6744
To find local offices, visit http://dcf.vermont.gov/fsd/contact_us/district_offices.
To contact the Vermont Adoption Registry, visit http://dcf.vermont.gov/fsd/vermont_adoption_registry
17. If the assistance listed above in questions 13 to 16 are for specific services, must these services be explicitly identified in the adoption assistance agreement?
What Should Families Know About Applying for Subsidy?
18. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?
The agency that is finalizing the adoption has been authorized by the State to provide families with information and to help the family complete the paperwork and act as their advocate in applying for adoption assistance.
19. Who makes the final determination on an adoption assistance agreement?
The adoption chief makes the final eligibility determination. The Deputy Commissioner makes the final decision on the content of the contract.
20. How do families request adoption assistance after finalization of an adoption?
Once an adoption is finalized a child will no longer meet the eligibility requiremnent for adoption assistance. If a child meets all of the eligibility requiements but this one and the family can prove they were not told about adoption assistance and therefore could not apply before the finalization they should contact the adoption unit.
How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?
21. Can adoptive parents ask to change an adoption assistance agreement?
Adoptive parents can request a change in the adoption assistance agreement at any time. Whenever a significant change occurs in a child’s special needs that relates to the need for which adoption assistance was granted, parents can request modification of the agreement. If a family’s circumstances have significantly changesd they can request a modification.
Requests for changes in the adoption assistance agreement must be in writingto the adoption chief (the State Subsidy Contact on page 1) and be signed by the adoptive parent(s). To request an increase in adoption assistance, the adoptive family must first make use of any and all available community supports and substantiate the need for the increase. Parents must include information detailing the community supports and agencies the family has already contacted for assistance, the results of those contacts, any school or psychological evaluations, and information from therapists, doctors, or social workers working with the child and family. The written request for change must outline what is needed, an estimate of cost, what portion (if any) of the cost will be funded by community supports, what portion (if any) will be funded by the family, and what portion parents are seeking from the state. The request must also detail the estimated duration of services and costs. If the family has had to cut back on work and suffers a loss of income or has to hire additional help they can request changes.
22. What steps does a family go through to appeal an adoption assistance decision in Vermont?
Adoptive parents can request a fair hearing any time an Agency of Human Services decision affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. Parents are sent letters informing them of intended agency action that will affect their child’s benefits, and the letter provides information and contacts to appeal the decision through fair hearing heard by the Human Services Board
What Else do Families Need to Know?
23. How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in Vermont?
The program is state supervised/state administered, which means that both policy and eligibility decisions are made by personnel at the state office.
The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 55.11% in Vermont. This is known as the Federal Financial Participation (FFP) rate. The remaining cost of the program is funded entirely with state funds.
24. Does Vermont operate a subsidized guardianship program?
As of July 1, 2010 Vermont has a sudsidized guardianship program for youth in state custody living with a relative who is licensed to provide foster care.
25. Does Vermont offer a tuition waiver program?
No, but youth may be eligible for funding of up to $5,000 per year while they are in college or a vocational or technical training program if :
- They are 18, 19 or 20 years old.
- They are in foster care or were in foster care as a teenager and are a U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen.
- They aged out of the foster care system at age 18 or were adopted from foster care after their 16th birthday.
- They have been accepted into or are enrolled in a degree, certificate, or other program at a college, university, technical, or vocational school and show progress toward that degree or certificate.
To learn more, contact:
Mr. Dana Lawrence
Independent Living Coordinator
Vermont Department of Social Services
103 South Main Osgood Building
Waterbury, VT 05676
26. Does Vermont offer a state adoption tax credit?
27. Does Vermont have any program to support an adoptee whose adoptive parents die until the child is adopted again?
If the child is living in the home of a pre-adoptive family a new adoption agreement can be opened prior to the finalization of the adoption.
28. What else differentiates Vermont’s adoption assistance program from others around the country?