Below you can find information about the adoption assistance benefits that may be available to families who adopt children from foster care in Arkansas. Adoption subsidy policies and practices are, for the most part, dependent on the state where the child was in foster care before the adoption.
Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
P.O. Box 1437, Slot S565
Little Rock, AR 72203
Lori and Willie Johnson
Adopt America Network
Russellville, AR 72801
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 Arkansas. 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.
Arkansas adoption resources:
Arkansas’s state-specific medical assistance information:
https://medicaid.mmis.arkansas.gov/ (See Consumer for Medicaid recipient information)
Or phone 800.482.5431 for Medicaid covered services.
Arkansas’s adoption assistance information:
Arkansas Code 9-9-401 through 9-9-412:
Click on Title 9, Family Law
Click on Subtitle 2, Domestic Relations
Click on Chapter 9, Adoption
Click on Subchapter 4, Children in Public Custody – Subsidized Adoption
Family Services Policy and Procedure Manual (PDF), Policy (VIII-I): Adoption Subsidy of January 2015:
(Policy (VIII-I): Adoption Assistance can be found on pages 274 through 288 of this PDF)
Who Is Eligible for Adoption Assistance?
1. How does Arkansas define special needs to determine eligibility?
A child is defined as having special needs if the child has at least one of the following needs or circumstances that may be a barrier to placement or adoption without financial assistance:
- Severe medical or psychological needs that require ongoing rehabilitation or treatment
- Two years of age or older and a child of color
- Nine years of age or older and white
- A member of any sibling group being placed together who share at least one biological parent and who have either lived together or otherwise developed a bond before adoptive placement, and the child is:
- legally free for adoption (parental rights have been terminated)
under 18 years old and the adoption was not finalized before approval of the subsidy
- for the purposes of a state subsidy only, in DHS custody
- a member of a Non-Custody/Out-of-Home Placement Services case
- who is SSI eligible at the time the adoption petition is filed.
- legally free for adoption (parental rights have been terminated)
- At high risk for the development of a serious physical, mental, or emotional condition, if a medical professional specializing in the area provides documentation of the condition for which the child is considered at risk. No adoption assistance payment can be made until there is documentation that the child has developed the actual condition.
Children must be legally free for adoption to be eligible for adoption assistance and must be under age 18.
2. Does the state-only funded adoption assistance program differ in any way from the Title IV-E program?
In order to be eligible for state-funded adoption assistance a child must have special needs as defined above, be legally free for adoption, and in the custody of the state of Arkansas.
3. Are children adopted from private agencies in Arkansas eligible for adoption assistance?
Children who receive Supplemental Security Income or who received Title IV-E adoption assistance in a prior adoption can be eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance if they are adopted through a private agency. Children who are not IV-E eligible and who are adopted from a private agency are not eligible for adoption assistance.
What Supports and Services Are Available?
4. What is the maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Arkansas?
5. Does Arkansas provide specialized rates (based on the extraordinary needs of the child or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child)?
Children who received a foster care rate higher than the standard foster care rate may receive adoption assistance benefits up to their foster care rate. Children who receive SSI can receive an adoption assistance rate up to the SSI rate plus $460 per month. For other children, if their foster care rate was more than $460 above the regular foster care rate, $460 plus the basic rate is the maximum adoption assistance rate allowed.
6. When do adoption assistance payments begin?
Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoption finalization.
7. When a child turns 18, which benefits, if any, continue?
Adoption assistance may be continued until age 21 if it is determined that the youth has a mental or physical disability that warrants continuation of the adoption assistance.
In addition, if the child was adopted at age 16 or older, the adoption subsidy may be extended until age 21 if any of the following circumstances is true:
- The youth is completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential.
- The youth is enrolled in an institution that provides post-secondary or vocational education.
- The youth is participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment.
- The youth is employed for at least 80 hours per month.
- The youth is incapable of doing any of the above activities due to a medical condition.
Before extending benefits, the Division will confirm that the youth meets these employment or education qualifications. If a child is incapable of meeting the requirements due to a medical condition, the reason for which the child is incapable of meeting the education or employment requirements must be documented by a medical professional and updated annually until the youth is 21.
8. Does Arkansas offer deferred adoption assistance agreements (agreements where initial monthly maintenance amount is $0 for children at risk of developing special needs later)?
Yes. See question 20 for how parents can request a payment if the child’s needs change.
9. What Medicaid services are available in Arkansas?
- Ambulatory surgical center services
- Child Health Management Services (CHMS)—Services include medical, psychological, speech and language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, behavioral and audiology.
- Child health services—Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT)
- Chiropractic services
- Dental services—Most dental services for recipients under age 21 are covered. Lengthy or complicated dental procedures must be approved by Medicaid before they are done.
- Developmental day treatment clinic services
- Domiciliary care—Room and board for patients who have to be away from home while they are receiving daily active medical treatment
- Durable medical equipment
- Emergency services
- Family planning services
- Federally Qualified Health Center
- Hearing services—These benefits must always be approved in advance by Medicaid
- Home health care
- Inpatient hospital services
- Outpatient hospital services
- Hyperalimentation services (intravenous or tube delivered nutrition)
- Inpatient psychiatric program—Medicaid will pay for inpatient psychiatric services for persons under age 21. Psychiatric treatment must be proven medically necessary before payment will be made. Treatment for recipients under age 21 must be approved ahead of time.
- Laboratory and s-ray
- Nurse midwife services
- DDS alternative community services—case management, crisis abatement respite services, integrated supports, consultation services, supported employment and services, specialized medical supplies, physical adaptation services.
- Nurse practitioner services
- Personal care services—Must be prescribed by a physician and provided according to a plan of care. These services include assistance with personal hygiene and grooming, preparation of meals, some household services, changing bed linens and taking you to the doctor.
- Physician services
- Podiatrist’s services
- Prescription drugs
- Private duty nursing services
- Prosthetics—Services include: diapers, nutritional formula and medical supplies.
- Psychology services—A broad range of individual and group outpatient psychology services for recipients under age 21 if provided by a licensed psychologist and prescribed by a physician.
- Rehabilitative hospital fervices
- Rehabilitative services for people with Mental illness and people with physical disabilities
- Rural health clinic services
- Targeted case management—Medicaid will pay for referrals for services and treatment when provided to recipients under age 21
- Therapy services—Occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech pathology services provided to recipients under age 21 if prescribed or referred by a physician.
- Ventilator equipment
- Vision care
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.)
In Arkansas, children who are not IV-E eligible do not automatically receive Medicaid. The Medical Services policy (6590.2) states that eligibility requirements must be met for a child to qualify for Medicaid through adoption assistance. A child who is non-Title IV-E eligible must have a special need for medical or rehabilitative care, as determined by the Division of Children and Family Services, which would preclude adoptive placement if the child were not Medicaid eligible. Some examples of special medical or rehabilitative needs include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Down syndrome, or a psychiatric disorder.
11. What mental health services are available?
Public mental health services for children in Arkansas are administered by the Department of Human Services through the Division of Behavioral Health. Specialized programs for children with serious emotional disturbance are available. Services may include interagency service coordination, individual and group outpatient psychological counseling, short-term crisis intervention, day treatment, wraparound services, and prescription drugs.
Inpatient Psychiatric Program services are publicly funded through Medicaid and cover inpatient psychiatric services for children under 21. Psychiatric treatment must be considered medically necessary and requires prior authorization before services can be received.
Alternative Community Services include case management, respite services, integrated supports, and consultation services. More information is available at https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/or by calling 877-227-0007.
Not all services may be available in all cases. Parents should contact their adoption assistance worker or medical assistance specialist for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.
12. In Arkansas, what nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption may be reimbursed?
Parents may be reimbursed for up to $1,500 per child for nonrecurring adoption expenses. Eligible expenses include reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses that are directly related to the legal adoption of a child who is determined to have special needs. Children or parents do not have to be eligible for any other adoption subsidy benefit for payment to be made for nonrecurring adoption expenses.
13. Is respite care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access respite care?
Many private organizations offer respite options. Parents can search for Arkansas respite providers using the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator at https://archrespite.org/respitelocator.
14. Is residential treatment available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access residential treatment services?
If a child receives Medicaid, the adoptive family should contact a residential facility and the facility will complete an intake and refer the case to the Medicaid review team for disposition.
If a child does not receive Medicaid and the adoption is finalized, there is no funding for residential treatment.
If a child does not receive Medicaid and the adoption is not finalized, the adoptive family must contact their DHS/DCFS adoption specialist. The specialist will contact the manager of the Behavior Treatment unit to determine if there are funds available for the treatment.
15. What other post-adoption services are available in Arkansas and how do families find out more about them?
Post-adoption services in Arkansas are administered by the DHS, Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS), contracted agencies, and parent organizations. Services may include:
- Information and referral
- Adoption education and training
- Case management
- Resource library
- Respite care
- Adoption support groups
To access post-adoption services, adoptive parents should contact the local adoption specialist in their county of residence. Specialists are listed at http://www.fosterarkansas.org/dcfs/fosterarkansas/Connect.aspx.
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?
What Should Families Know About Applying for Adoption Assistance?
17. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?
The adoption specialist.
18. Who makes the final determination on an adoption assistance agreement?
Adoption specialists help families complete eligibility forms and negotiate benefits. The Adoption subsidy coordinator reviews the application and makes a recommendation of approval to the Division Director who makes the final decision.
19. How do families request adoption assistance after finalization of an adoption?
Based upon federal guidelines, post-finalization requests are denied. The family then appeals that decision by contacting the Appeals and Hearing unit through the Office of Chief Counsel with the Department of Human Services. The mailing address is:
Department of Human Services
Office of Chief Counsel, Appeals and Hearings
P.O. Box 1437, Slot 1001
Little Rock, AR 72203-1437
How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?
20. Can adoptive parents ask to change an adoption assistance agreement?
Parents can request changes to the adoption assistance agreement at any time. Parents must submit a written request and show a material change in family circumstances to amend an agreement. Material changes include, but are not limited to child’s having different medical problems or condition or a significant change in the household. The state may renegotiate an adoption assistance agreement if the adoptive parents request an increase in payment due to a change in their circumstances and if a higher foster care rate would have been paid on behalf of the child if the child had still been in foster care.
To request a change, parents work with the local DCFS area adoption specialist. The specialist submits a request for an increase to the adoption field services supervisor for review and comments. The adoption field supervisor will forward the packet to the adoption field services manager for approval. The adoption field services manager will submit the packet to the adoption subsidy coordinator.
If families had received deferred adoption assistance, they follow this process to report the appearance of a medical condition and seek a monthly payment.
21. What steps does a family go through to appeal an adoption assistance decision in Arkansas?
Adoptive parents have the right to request a fair hearing when they disagree with a DCFS decision that affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. If an initial application for adoption assistance is denied, the adoption assistance coordinator will send a written notice by certified mail to the prospective adoptive parents. The notice advises parents that they have 10 working days to send a written request to the director of DCFS seeking an appeal. The director then has 10 working days to reply by certified mail to the adoptive parent. If the director upholds the denial, the family has 10 working days to appeal to the Appeals and Hearings Administration Section.
Requests to Appeals and Hearings for a fair hearing/administrative hearing must be made in writing to the address below within 30 calendar days of receiving an adverse action from DCFS. The Appeals and Fair Hearing Section will notify DCFS that an appeal has been filed. An Investigative File will be prepared immediately and made available to the adoptive parent, any representative they choose to bring to the hearing, the Office of Chief Counsel Attorney, and the Appeals and Hearing Section. The Appeals and Hearing Section will send out a notice of hearing that contains the time, date, and place of the hearing and the name of the hearing officer. Hearings usually take place in the child’s county of residence, but may be held in other locations. If an adoptive parent does not appear at a scheduled hearing and does not contact the Appeals and Hearing Section before the date of the hearing, the appeal will be abandoned.
Send requests for a fair hearing to:
Department of Human Services
Office of Chief Counsel
Appeals and Hearings Administration Section
P.O. Box 1437, Slot N401
Little Rock, AR 72203-1437
More information is available at http://humanservices.arkansas.gov/occ/occDocuments/DHSPolicy1098.pdf.
What Else Do Families Need to Know?
22. How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in Arkansas?
The program is state supervised/county administered, which means that personnel at the state office are responsible for making policy decisions regarding the adoption assistance program and provide guidance to county offices. The counties make decisions related to children’s eligibility. Division of Children and Family Services central office staff includes the adoption assistance coordinator, who maintains a file on each child who is receiving adoption assistance. The coordinator processes initial adoption assistance applications and renewals and provides technical assistance to adoption field staff regarding adoption assistance.
The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 70.88% in Arkansas. This is known as the Federal Financial Participation (FFP) rate. The remaining cost of the program is funded with state general revenue. Counties are not responsible for any of the costs.
23. Does Arkansas operate a subsidized guardianship program?
Yes. More information is available by calling 501-682-1585 or visiting the following sites:
Subsidized Guardianship brochure:
Brochure explaining the differences between subsidized adoption and subsidized guardianship:
Frequently asked questions about subsidized guardianship:
24. Does Arkansas offer a tuition waiver program?
No, but the state does participate in the Education and Training Voucher program for children adopted after their 16th birthday. More information is available at
25. Does Arkansas offer a state adoption tax credit?
Arkansas income tax allows for a credit of 20 percent of the federal adoption tax credit claimed on IRS Form 8839. To claim any state credit, parents will need to fill out AR1000TC Schedule of Tax Credits., which is available at https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/incomeTaxOffice/AR1000TC_2016_RE.pdf.