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Wisconsin State Subsidy Profile

Updated July 2008

State Subsidy Contact Person

Steven Obershaw
Department of Children and Families
PO Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: 608-261-7660
Fax: 608-264-6750
E-mail: steven.obershaw@wisconsin.gov
Web: http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/children/adoption/INDEX.HTM

NACAC Subsidy Representative (parent/volunteer)

Leann Meiners
Adoption Resources of Wisconsin
6682 W. Greenfield Avenue, Suite 310
Milwaukee, WI 53214
Office: 414-475-1246 / 800-762-8063
Fax: 414-475-7007
E-mail: lmeiners@coalitionforcyf.org
Web: http://www.coalitionforcyf.org


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 (www.childwelfare.gov). Profiles for each state’s subsidy program are available on our web site at www.nacac.org. 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 adoption.assistance@nacac.org. 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:

http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/children/adoption/INDEX.HTM

Wisconsin’s state-specific medical assistance:

http://dhs.wisconsin.gov/medicaid/

Questions regarding medical assistance information can also be directed to Jennifer Broberg at 608-266-2550 / 866-666-5532 or jennifer.broberg@wisconsin.gov

Wisconsin’s adoption assistance:
http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/children/adoption/AAINFO.HTM and http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/children/adoption/SNATOPICS.HTM

Wisconsin Statutes §48.975
Link opens PDF file. §48.975 is on pages 111-112.
http://www.legis.state.wi.us/statutes/Stat0048.pdf

Wisconsin Administrative Code Department of Children and Families DCF 50
http://legis.wisconsin.gov/rsb/code/dcf/dcf050.pdf


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:

a.   Ten years of age or older (if age is the only factor in determining eligibility)

b.   Member of a minority race and children of that minority race cannot be readily placed due to a lack of appropriate placement resources

c.   Member of a sibling group of three or more children that must be placed together at the same time

d.   Exhibits special need characteristics judged to be moderate or intensive

e.   At high risk of developing a moderate or intensive level of special needs as outlined above

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 and legally free for adoption. If the child is an American Indian, adoption procedures shall be in accordance with 25 USC 1901-1963 available at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/25/ch21.html.

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

2008 Basic Rates
2009 Basic Rates
Age Rate Age Rate
0-4 $333/mo 0-4 $349/mo
5-11 $363/mo 5-11 $381/mo
12-14 $414/mo 12-14 $433/mo
15-18 $432/mo 15-18 $452/mo
Rates are based on applicable foster care rates. “Supplemental” rates are based on an assessment of a child's emotional, behavioral, and physical characteristics. “Exceptional” rates are paid when needed to avoid institutionalization of a child. The maximum is $2,000 per month, including basic 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 Wisconsin offers these rates, the criteria used to define them are as follows:

DIFFICULTY-OF-CARE LEVELS

Emotional

Level A—Not Applicable. These children do not exhibit unusual emotional characteristics for foster children in their age group.

Level B—Minimal. The child exhibits at least two characteristics that include or correspond in extent or degree with the following: These children demand excessive attention from others. They are nervous, high-strung, and impulsive and they display temper tantrums. They often are restless and hyperactive, have short attention spans and occasionally wet during the night. They exhibit low self-esteem and lack confidence in their ability to deal with the world. They are periodically withdrawn and unresponsive.

Level C—Moderate. The child exhibits at least two characteristics that include or correspond in extent or degree with the following: Children at this level are habitually resistive and have difficulty communicating with others, and often fail to do what is expected of them. They typically respond to situations with apathy, showing a lack of any interest. They have difficulty establishing relationships and set up others for rejection. The children display cultural and social conflicts. They are frequent night bed wetters or occasionally defecate in bedclothesor both. They display over-activity and over-excitedness, necessitating close supervision.

Level D—Intensive. The child exhibits one or more characteristics that include or correspond in extent or degree with the following, but the characteristics are severe.  These children may have infantile personalities, wet or soil during daytime hours several times a week, have severe hyperactivity to the point of frequent destructiveness or sleeplessness, are chronically withdrawn, depressed or anxious, are self-injurious, require constant and intensive supervision and may be involved in behavioral management programs or show bizarre or severely disturbed behavior. They may display anorexia nervosa.

Behavioral

Level A—Not Applicable. These children do not exhibit unusual behavioral characteristics for foster care children in their age group.

Level B—Minimal. The child exhibits at least two characteristics that include or correspond in extent or degree with the following: These children run away infrequently up to two days with the intention of returning.  They occasionally skip classes or an entire day, affecting class achievement and requiring make-up and parent contact with the school.  They use sexual acting-out or language as an attention-getting mechanism and occasionally experiment with alcohol or drugs or both.  They may have infrequent conflicts with parents or community authorities including displays of hostility and occasional petty theft or vandalism or both.  They may exhibit occasional aggressive behavior such as biting, scratching or throwing objects at another person.

Level C—Moderate. The child exhibits at least two characteristics that include or correspond in extent or degree with the following:  Children at this level frequently run away four to seven times a year and three or four days at a timeand requires encouragement to return.  They are frequently truant (one to two times a month for more than one day), resulting in delayed academic progress including performance below ability which may lead to class failure, possible suspension and frequent parent contact with the school.  They may exhibit sexual activity harmful to themselves and disruptive to family and community relationships.  They may occasionally have been involved in non-violent crimes such as burglary, which caused conflict with authority.  They may exhibit frequent aggressive behavior such as biting, scratching or throwing objects at another person.  They may exhibit occasional self-abusive behavior such as banging their heads, poking their eyes, kicking themselves or biting themselves.

Level D—Intensive. The child exhibits one or more characteristics that include or correspond in extent or degree with the following, but the characteristic is severe: These children frequently run away for long periods of time (eight or more times a year and five or more days at a time), returning only on the initiative of others. They may habitually create a disturbance in the classroom or be habitually truant resulting in class failure, frequent suspension or expulsion, and require frequent parent contact with the school. They exhibit sexual deviancy including that of a violent nature or non-consentinginvolvement of others. They mayhabitually use alcohol or drugs or both, exhibit uncontrollable behavior, be involved in property offenses repeatedly with adjudication on more than one property offense which is as serious as burglary, and have committed acts such as arson, physical assault or armed robbery.  On a daily basis, they may exhibit aggressive behavior such as biting, scratching or throwing objects as another person. They may exhibit frequent self-abusive behavior such as banging their heads, poking their eyes, kicking themselves or biting themselves. These children may eat inappropriate items such as rubber or metal.

Physical and Personal Care

Level A—Not Applicable. These children do not exhibit unusual physical or personal characteristics for foster children in their age group.

Level B—Minimal. The child exhibits one or more characteristics that include or correspond in extent or degree with the following: These children need some help with putting on braces or prosthetic devices and help with buttons or laces but basically care for themselves and are able to maintain their own physical assisting devices. They have seizures or motor dysfunctions, which are controlled by medication. Therapy for gross or fine motor skills can be done with supervision for children to achieve normal conditions. These children may require special diet preparation.

Level C—Moderate. The child exhibits one or more characteristics that include or correspond in extent or degree with the following: Children at this level need help with dressing, bathing, and general toilet needs including maintenance procedures such as diapering and applying catheters and require the help of a person or a device to walk or get around.  They need assistance to care for and maintain physical assisting devices.  The children have feeding problems such as excessive intake, extreme messiness or extremely slow eating requiring help or supervision or both.  There may be a need for tube or gavage feeding.  These children require special care to prevent or remedy skin conditions such as decubiti (bedsores) and severe eczema.  The administration of medications and preparation of special diets are demanding, and prescribed physical therapies such as those for vision, hearing, speech or gross or fine motor skills require one to two hours a day.

Level D—Intensive. The child exhibits one or more characteristics that include or correspond in extent or degree with the following: These children are non-ambulatory, may have uncontrollable seizures and need appliances for drainage, colostomy, aspiration or suctioning.  Even with proper medical attention, vision, speech or hearing functions are impaired and may require foster parent training.  These children are in need of daily-prescribed exercise routines to improve or maintain gross or fine motor skills that require home administration.  Prevention procedures such as daily irrigation may be required on behalf of the children.  Extra cleaning and laundry to maintain body hygiene and control of the child's body waste may also be required.  Orthotics care at this level demands a great deal of time, care and responsibility.  Prescribed physical therapies take 2 to 3 hours a day.

5. Parents can receive 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 adoption expenses” are reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses which aredirectly related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs and which are not incurred in violation of State or Federal law.

“Other expenses” may include: the agency fee for the adoption study and supervision of the placement prior to adoption, transportation in getting to home study meetings or preplacement visits with the child that were required by the adoption social worker, costs of lodging and food for the child to be adopted andthe adoptive family when participating in activities required by the adoption social worker that are necessary to complete the adoption process, required health and psychological examinations for the adoptive parents if they are not paid for by insurance, necessary long distance telephone calls (e.g., to the adoption agency), and the fee for obtaining a new birth certificate.

Families may request reimbursement up to two years after their adoption is completed.  All children adopted with adoption assistance from the state of Wisconsin are eligible for reimbursement.   International adoptions are not eligible.

The reimbursement limit is $2,000 per child.

6. What Medicaid services are available in Wisconsin?

  • Prescription drugs
  • Services rendered by physicians and nurses, including nurse practitioners
  • Inpatient and outpatient hospital
  • Laboratory and x-ray
  • Health check for recipients under 21 years of age
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Certain podiatric services
  • Inpatient and outpatient care in specialty hospitals

The following when prescribed by a physician:

  • Prostheses and other corrective support devices
  • Hearing aids and other audiological services
  • Home health and personal care
  • Independent nursing services
  • Medical supplies and equipment
  • Occupational, physical, and speech therapy
  • Family planning services and supplies
  • Nursing home services
  • Hospice care
  • Appropriate transportation to obtain medical care by ambulance or specialized medical vehicles
  • Services furnished by optometrists and eyeglasses
  • Certain dental services
  • Certain chiropractic services
  • Psychotherapy and alcohol and other drug abuse services, including Community Support Programs

Families can call 800-362-3002 with questions regarding Medicaid covered health care services, or go on-line at http://dhs.wisconsin.gov/medicaid. If families currently receive Wisconsin Medicaid and need to report address or insurance changes, call Jennifer Broberg, Bureau of Permanence and Out-of-Home Care, at 866-666-5532 or 608-266-2550, or e-mail at jennifer.broberg@wisconsin.gov

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

Benefit coverage is the same for both groups.

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

Public mental health services for children in Wisconsin are administered by the Department of Health Services, Wisconsin Medicaid. DHS Medicaid services include the following examples: inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, and intermediate care facility services for patients in institutions for mental disease; mental health and medical day treatment; mental health and psychosocial rehabilitative services, including case management services, provided by staff of a certified community support program; physician services; and prescription drugs.

Wisconsin Medicaid services:
http://dhs.wisconsin.gov/medicaid

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?

N/A

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 Wisconsin are administered by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) through six Post Adoption Resource Centers located throughout the state. Post adoption services available include the following:

  1. Resource and referral
  2. Parent support groups
  3. Educational opportunities
  4. Mentor families
  5. Lending libraries
  6. Parenting training
  7. Respite Care

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) funds the Post Adoption Resource Centers (PARCs). Contact the DCF (866-666-5532) for the phone number for the appropriate PARC to contact or visit the Adoption Resources of Wisconsin website and follow the link for “Wisconsin Post Adoption Resource Centers” at: http://www.wiadopt.org/AdoptionResourcesOfWisconsin.aspx

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Wisconsin’s respite programs, link: http://www.respitelocator.org/.

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?

N/A

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

Residential treatment placements occur through the social/human service agency in the family’s county of residence.  The cost to the family would not be greater than the amount of adoption assistance received, unless the county court deems otherwise.  Contact local county social/human service intake staff.

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

Yes, Wisconsin offers deferred adoption assistance. The agreement is authorized with a zero ($0) monetary amount to families adopting who meet the eligibility requirements of a child at high risk of developing special care needs and begins the month the adoption is finalized. If special care needs are identified and confirmed at least twelve months from the date of adoption finalization the adoption assistance agreement will be amended with a new rate monthly reimbursement rate.

14. Does Wisconsin operate a subsidized guardianship program?

Yes.  Subsidized guardianship is being piloted in one of Wisconsin’s seventy-two (72) counties – Milwaukee County.

Programmatic Procedures

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

There are four assigned people (a staff person from the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare and three regional supervisors) who review and provide final agreement approval after the agreement has been negotiated between the worker and the adoptive parent(s).

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

No.  Family resources are not a factor in negotiating a rate and deciding whether to use the full foster care rate or less than the full rate.

17. When do subsidy payments begin?  

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoptive placement and must begin no later than the date of adoption finalization (private agency adoptions).

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

Yes. Private agency workers should follow the same procedures as their public agency counterparts.

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

Assistance will continue until the child reaches age 18 if eligibility otherwise continues.  Payments may continue up to age 19 if the adoptee is a full-time high school student or its equivalent, or age 21 if all of the following is met:

a) the adoptive person is a full-time student in high school or the equivalent;

b) the Department determines that the adopted person has a mental or physical handicap which warrants the continuation of assistance under 42 USC 673;

c) the adopted person is not eligible for any other benefits (e.g., SSI, SSA or VA); and

d) the adopted person otherwise lacks adequate resources to continue in high school or the equivalent.

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

Biannually the Department of Children and Families sends written notification to adoptive families reminding them of their post placement responsibilities specified in HFS.50.06(2)(a) to (j).
(See http://www.legis.state.wi.us/rsb/code/hfs/hfs050.pdf)

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

Adoption assistance agreements can be redetermined at any time during the adoptive placement if adoptive parents believe the special care needs of the child have changed and it is prior to finalization of the adoption.

Prior to adoption finalization, if an applicant for adoption assistance is not satisfied with the action taken by the Department on the application, or if a prospective adoptive parent who has been approved for or is receiving adoption assistance is not satisfied with the conditions governing the award, the applicant or prospective adoptive parent may request a review of the decision by the division administrator or designee or may appeal the decision under Ch. 227, Wis. Stats. (http://www.legis.state.wi.us/statutes/Stat0227.pdf), to the department’s office of administrative hearings.

A request for review of a decision should be addressed to the Administrator, Division of Safety and Permanence, P.O. Box 8916, Madison, WI 53708

A request for a fair hearing should be addressed to the Division of Hearings and Appeals, P.O. 7875, Madison, WI 53707.

After finalization, parents must wait 12 months from the date of adoption to request an amendment to their original adoption assistance agreement if they believe a substantial change in circumstance has occurred since the initial adoption assistance agreement was signed. The family must complete and return the request for adoption assistance amendment form available from the Wisconsin department to record the family’s observations of the child’s physical, behavioral, and emotional needs. Professional documentation of the child’s current special needs is also required for verification of a substantial change in circumstance.

Changes to adoption assistance agreements are known as amendments. Parents interested in pursuing an amendment should contact the Adoption Assistance Program Specialist at 866-666-5532 to discuss the process and obtain the necessary information. All information regarding a Request to amend the adoption assistance agreement for a child at high risk of developing special needs and a Request to amend adoption assistance agreement following adoption is in Wisconsin’s Administrative Code Chapter HFS 50, Facilitating the Adoption of Children with Special Needs, Sections 50.044 (2) and 50.045 (2) found on the Web at http://www.legis.state.wi.us/rsb/code/hfs/hfs050.pdf

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

There are two sets of procedures for parents seeking a fair hearing regarding adoption assistance in Wisconsin. One set is the appeal process before adoption is final and the second set is after the adoption is final.

Prior to adoption finalization, if an applicant for adoption assistance is not satisfied with the action taken by the Department on the application, or if a prospective adoptive parent who has been approved for or is receiving adoption assistance is not satisfied with the conditions governing the award, the applicant or prospective adoptive parent may request a review of the decision by the division administrator or designee or may appeal the decision under Ch. 227, Wis. Stats. (http://www.legis.state.wi.us/statutes/Stat0227.pdf), to the department’s office of administrative hearings. A request for review of a decision should be addressed to the Administrator, Division of Safety and Permanence, P.O. Box 8916, Madison, WI 53708.

After adoption finalization, an adoptive parent may appeal to the department of administration’s division of hearings and appeals regarding a contested department decision such as a denial of adoption assistance benefits or a failure of the department to inform adoptive parents of the availability of adoption assistance. A request for a hearing should be addressed to the Division of Hearings and Appeals, P.O. Box 7875, Madison, WI 53707

If families submit a request for an amendment and it is denied, the request for a hearing regarding amendment decisions are directed to the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

Refer to Wisconsin Administrative Code HFS 50, Facilitating the Adoption of a Special Needs Child, 50.065 - http://www.legis.state.wi.us/rsb/code/hfs/hfs050.pdf

For a complete listing of reasons for appeal link to Wisconsin Administrative Code HFS 50, Facilitating the Adoption of Children with Special Needs – 50.065 at: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/rsb/code/hfs/hfs050.pdf

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.

After Adoption is Final. An adoptive parent, after an adoption has been declared final by a court, may appeal either of the following under ch. 227, Stats., to the department's office of administrative hearings:

(a) A decision of the department before the adoption became final not to approve an assistance or a decision of the department before the adoption became final relating to the amount of the adoption assistance, provided that:

  1. The conditions of s. HFS 50.03 for eligibility for adoption assistance existed at the time adoption became final;
  2. One of the following circumstances occurred:

    a. Facts regarding the child, the child's biological family or the child's background that were relevant to the proposed adoption were known to the adoption worker who served as the child's guardian and who represented the department which placed the child for adoption, to another agency authorized to place children for adoption and which placed the child for adoption or to an American Indian tribal agency in this state that was guardian of the child and that placed the child for adoption, but were not presented to the adoptive parents by the adoption agency or by another source, such as the child's physician or the agency or by another source such as the child's physician or the agency that originally placed the child for foster care, before the adoption became final;

    b. Adoption assistance was denied based upon a means test of the adoptive family;

    c. The determination by the department that the child was ineligible for adoption assistance was erroneous; or

    d. The adoptive parents were not advised by the adoption agency or by another source, such as a social worker or another adoptive parent, about the availability of adoption assistance and had not previously adopted with adoption assistance; and

  3. It has been less than 3 years since the adoptive parent knew or reasonably should have known of the circumstance that is the basis for the hearing request under subd. 2.; or

(b) The failure of the department to comply with a condition of the adoption assistance agreement under s. HFS 50.06, provided that the request is initiated within one year after the failure began.

(c) A department decision on a request under s. HFS 50.044 to amend an adoption assistance agreement regarding a child at high risk. A request for a hearing received more than 60 days following the date of the department’s written decision shall be denied.

(d) A department decision on a request under s. HFS 50.045 to determine whether a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. A request for a hearing received more than 60 days following the date of the department’s written decision shall be denied.

For more information, see http://www.legis.state.wi.us/rsb/code/hfs/hfs050.pdf
or contact Jill Duerst at 608-266-1142.

A request for a hearing should be addressed to:

The Office of Administrative Hearings
P.O. Box 7875
Madison, WI 53707

System Operation and Program Funding

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

The program is state supervised/state administered. This means that both policy and eligibility decisions are made by personnel at the state office. Licensed private adoption agencies are agency administered in terms of providing adoption services and seeking approval for adoption assistance.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 59.06% in Wisconsin. 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 delineate Wisconsin's adoption assistance program from others around the country.

The Wisconsin Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program—You may be eligible for funding of up to the cost of attendance at the institution, but no more than $5,000 per year while you are in college or a vocational or technical training program! You may qualify if:

  1. You are 18, 19 or 20 years old.
  2. You are in foster care or you were in foster care as a teenager and you are a US citizen or qualified non-citizen
  3. You aged out of the foster care system at age 18 or were adopted from foster care with adoption finalization after your 16th birthday.
  4. You have been accepted into or are enrolled in a degree, certificate or other program at a college, university, technical or vocational school and you show progress towards that degree or certificate.

To find out more about the specific eligibility requirements for your state, contact your caseworker or:

Christine Lenske
Independent Living Coordinator
Department of Children and Families
P.O. Box 8916
Madison WI 53708-8916
Phone: 608-267-7287
Fax: 608-264-6750
Email: christine.lenske@wisconsin.gov


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