Updated April 2015
Below you can find information about the adoption assistance benefits that may be available to families who adopt children from foster care in Connecticut. Adoption subsidy policies and practices are, for the most part, dependent on the state where the child was in foster care before the adoption.
Department of Children and Families (DCF)
Office of Children and Youth in Placement
505 Hudson Street
Hartford, CT 06105
860-550-6593 (Jacqueline Watford)
North Haven, CT 06473
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 Connecticut. 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:
Connecticut’s state-specific medical assistance:
Connecticut’s adoption subsidy links:
Click on Financial and Other Services Available in the left navigation pane.
Click on Financial and Other Support to Foster or Adopt a Child.
Connecticut’s General Statutess, §17a-117 to §17a-121a
Connecticut’s Agency Regulations, Subsidized Adoptions of Special Needs Children, Section 17a-116-6 to 17a-116-14
Connecticut’s Policy Manual, Subsidized Adoptions, Chapter 48-18-1 to 48-18
Who is Eligible for Adoption Assistance or Subsidy?
1. How does Connecticut define special needs to determine a child’s eligibility?
A special needs child is a child who is difficult to place in an adoptive family because of one or more of the following conditions:
- physical or mental disability
- serious emotional maladjustment
- a recognized high risk of physical or mental disability
- over age eight
- the age of two and over and racial or ethnic factor which present a barrier to adoption
- is a member of a sibling group that should be placed together
- has been certified as a special needs child by the Department
2. Does the state-only funded adoption assistance program differ in any way from the Title IV-E program?
3. Are children adopted from private agencies in Connecticut eligible for adoption assistance?
The private agency must consult with the DCF Subsidy Unit Manager at DCF Central Office to determine if the child qualifies for adoption assistance. This must be done prior to adoption finalization. The child must meet the special needs criteria and the child’s needs will determine the amount and type of adoption assistance. For children who are seriously disabled and eligible for SSI, the child must receive SSI prior to adoption finalization.
What Supports and Services Are Available?
4. What is the maximum basic adoption assistance in Connecticut?
Adoption assistance payments are negotiated with families before finalization. The current daily adoption assistance rate (per diem) in Connecticut is 100 percent of the USDA’s estimate of the cost of raising a child.
5. Does Connecticut provide specialized rates (based on the extraordinary needs of the child or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child)?
Children adopted from a theraputic foster home may receive up to the monthly maintenance payment they received in foster care as adoption assistance, but may not exceed that rate.
Children who are defined as “medically complex” may receive adoption assistance commessurate with the child’s medical condition based on the care he or she requires. The maximum per diem for medically complex children is $47.10. Children may be considered medically complex if they are: (a) diagnosed with a life-threatening condition; (b) diagnosed with an injurious medical condition that results in substantial physical impairment; (c) HIV-positive; or (d) diagnosed with AIDS, and meet criteria for nursing care level of need. The child must require specific care to meet this definition.
Medically complex children are reviewed annually. The review requires that the medical doctor certifies the child’s medically complex status. If the child’s medical condition improves and they no longer certified as medically complex, the child’s adoption assistance rate will reduce to the basic rate.
6. When do adoption assistance benefits begin?
Adoption assistance benefits are negotiated before finalization, and benefits begin at finalization.
7. When a child turns 18, which benefits, if any, continue?
Adoption financial subsidies end at age 18 and medical coverage ends at age 21.
8. Does Connecticut 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 Connecticut?
Medicaid is managed by Healthcare for Uninsured Kids (HUSKY), which can be reached at 800-656-6684 in Connecticut or 860-656-6684 from outside Connecticut. Connecticut uses managed care HMO providers for Medicaid for children, and adoptive parents select their child’s plan.
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.)
Children with state-funded adoption assistance receive the same benefits as Title IV-E funded children.
11. What mental health services are available?
Public mental health services for children are available for families within their communities through the HUSKY program. Examples of community-based services include child guidance clinics, extended day treatment programs, emergency mobile psychiatric services, and family advocacy.
Connecticut Medicaid offers mental health services including inpatient psychiatric care, outpatient mental health services, prescription medication, mobile crisis services, and substance abuse services. For more information, visit http://www.ct.gov/hh/site/default.asp.
HUSKY Plus provides supplemental benefits for certain children with special health care needs until their 19th birthday. Children with special health care needs are children who have, or are at elevated risk for, chronic conditions they were born with or later acquired, including physical, developmental, behavioral, and emotional conditions. These children require health and related services of a type and amount not usually required by children of the same age. There are two Husky Plus Programs, one physical and one behavioral. For more information, parents should call 877-284-8759 or 800-842-4524 (TTD/TTY for hearing impaired). For more information, visit:
12. In Connecticut, what nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption may be reimbursed?
Parents may be reimbursed, up to $750 per child, for expenses directly related to the adoption of a child considered to be special needs. Such expenses can include court fees paid in out-of-state matters, attorney fees, cost of an adoption home study (including health and psychological examinations), supervision of an adoptive placement before finalization, and reasonable costs for travel, lodging and food for the child and adoptive parent(s) when necessary to secure an adoptive placement.
13. Is child care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access child care?
When a child in the state’s foster care system is adopted by a family residing in Connecticut, the child is eligible for one year of child care paid for through Care4Kids and Department of Social Services regardless of family income. The family must apply for Care4Kids after finalization to access this service.
After the first year, the family applies for Care4Kids for their child as does any other working Connecticut parent, and must meet the eligibility guidelines, including income. For eligible children, Care4Kids will provide child care until the child turns age 13.
14. Is respite care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access respite care?
Families can look for respite resources in Connecticut through the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service (http://archrespite.org/respitelocator).
15. Is residential treatment available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access residential treatment services?
Families who live in Connecticut, including those families who have adopted children, may apply for the Voluntary Services Program. If eligible, parents may not have to contribute to the cost of placement. Adoption assistance will be renegotiated with the adoptive family when the child is placed and while DCF provides the costs for the residential facility. To access the program, families should call the Department’s Hotline at 800-842-2288.
Any family who has adopted a child from the state’s foster care system or is caring for a related child through the Department’s subsidized relative transfer of guardianship program is eligible to receive post-adoption /guardianhip support services from the Connecticut Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) at the University of Connecticut Health Care Center in Farmington. The AAP can offer a wide variety of services such as:
- Brief assessment services and links to community program
- Information and referral services
- Support groups
- Training opportunities
- Community Case Manager support
- Post-finalization in-home support services.
For more information, parents should contact AAP at 877-679-1961.
Additional supportive services may be available from the Connecticut Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents (CAFAP), which can be reached at 860-258-3400 or http://www.cafap.com.
Not all services may be available in all cases. Families should contact their adoption assistance worker or post-adoption services contact for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services
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?
No. These services are not part of the adoption assistance program.
What Should Families Know About Applying for Subsidy?
18. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?
The pre-adoptive family and the DCF social worker negotiate the adoption assistance before finalization. Family income and resources are not considered when determining the monthly adoption assistance amount.
19. Who makes the final determination on an adoption assistance agreement?
The DCF Central Office subsidy unit makes final decisions in conjunction with our Central Office Legal and Fiscal divisions and with the recommendations made by the DCF area offices.
20. How do families request adoption assistance after finalization of an adoption?
Families who have adopted a child from the state’s foster care system may apply, in writing, and explain the reasons adoption assistance is needed. DCF will review records to determine if the child’s condition is related to circumstances that existed (per state statutes) before finalization. DCF grants medical-only or financial/medical assistance if the child’s spcial needs are related to a pre-finalization circumstance. Decisions are made after considering the child’s current needs and supporting documentation as well as the family’s resources and the child’s treatment needs.
To start this process, families should write to:
Subsidized Adoption Unit
Central Office of DCF
505 Hudson St.
Hartford, CT 06106
All children adopted from DCF are eligible for AAP services (see question 16) regardless of financial assistance that is provided to the child.
How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?
21. Can adoptive parents ask to change an adoption assistance agreement?
Requests for modification must be made in writing and must include documentation of need, cost, and medical necessity. When an increase is due to a change in the needs of the child, that need must be tied to a condition that existed or was dormant prior to finalization.
22. What steps does a family go through to appeal an adoption assistance decision in Connecticut?
Hearings may be requested only in response to proposed reductions, suspensions, or terminations of adoption assistance. Parents will be notified in writing, before action is taken, of any proposal to discontinue, reduce, or suspend adoption assistance benefits. Parents have 15 days to respond in writing to the proposal if they wish to ask for a hearing. If parents request a hearing, the proposed action will not occur before a hearing is held and a determination made.
If a parent does not respond within 15 days, the action will be taken, but parents still have up to 60 days from the date of the notice of proposed action to request a fair hearing. Adoptive parents should write a letter requesting a hearing or to use the form included in the original notice of intended action to notify the Hearings Unit of the desire for a fair hearing. Hearings requests should be sent to:
Department of Children and Families
505 Hudson Street
Hartford, CT 06106
A Hearings Unit staff member will contact the parent to schedule a hearing at a convenient time, and manage the logistics the hearing itself.
Adoption assistance hearings are held before the Subsidy Review Board, a governor-appointed board of three professionals that issue a written determination within 90 days of the hearing.
What Else do Families Need to Know?
23. How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in Connecticut?
The program is state supervised/state administered, which means that both policy and eligibility decisions are made by staff at the Department of Children and Families. All adoption assistance cases are centrally administered by DCF.
In Connecticut, the federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 50 percent. This is known as the Federal Financial Participation or FFP rate. The remaining cost of the program is state funded.\
24. Does Connecticut operate a subsidized guardianship program?
Yes, children must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- are under 18 years of age
- have been in the custody of the Department through a voluntary placement agreement or through a court order for at least six consecutive months;
- have been placed in with a relative caregiver who has been licensed for foster care for at least six consecutive months, and reunification with the child’s parents is not a viable option within the foreseeable future because of one or more conditions including, but not limited to, the following:
- death of the parent
- abandonment of the child by the parent
- physical or mental disability or serious emotional maladjustment of the parent
- failure of the parent to achieve rehabilitation adequate to provide for the child
- the age of the child when considered with other factors in the child’s functioning and circumstances present a barrier to reunification
There are three types of subsidies available under this program:
- A monthly subsidy
- A medical subsidy
- An exceptional expense subsidy
Children are eligible for the above subsidies until they reach 18 years of age, or 21 years of age if they are in full-time attendance at a secondary school or technical school/college or if they are in a state-accredited job training program.
25. Does Connecticut offer financial assistance for college or post-secondary education?
Any child adopted from the DCF foster care system after December 31, 2004 can receive assistance with post-secondary education costs. DCF will provide financial assistance toward the cost for any degree or accredited program after high school that the adopted child is accepted into, provided the child attends full time. The maximum amount of financial assistance is the annual cost of the University of Connecticut, including tuition, fees, and room and board. For more information, contact Paul Gressly (860-550-6559) in the DCF Subsidy Unit. In the future, the maximum amount may change to the Connecticut University costs.
26. Does Connecticut offer a state adoption tax credit?
27. Does Connecticut have any program to support an adoptee whose adoptive parents die until the child is adopted again?
Not at this time, although a policy may come in the next year.
28. What else differentiates Connecticut’s adoption assistance program from others around the country?
In Connecticut there are reviews of existing adoption assistance and subsidized guardianship agreements:
- Biennial review of adoption assistance for financial and medical needs
- Annual review of child’s continued medically complex certification
- Annual review of subsidized guardianship agreements