Updated September 2018

Below you can find information about the adoption assistance benefits that may be available to families who adopt children from foster care in Delaware. Adoption subsidy policies and practices are, for the most part, dependent on the state where the child was in foster care before the adoption.

State Contact

Ana Prosceno
DSCYF/Division of Family Services
1825 Faulkland Road
Wilmington, DE 19805

NACAC Volunteer

Mary Lou Edgar
Wilmington, DE 19810

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 Delaware. 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 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.

For more information on Title IV-E eligibility, view our fact sheet Eligibility and Benefits for Federal Adoption Assistance.

Adoption Resources on the Web:

Delaware’s state-specific medical assistance:

Delaware adoption assistance manual:

State Subsidy Contact Person

1. How does Delaware 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:

  • Eight years of age or older
  • Member of a minority race or ethnic background
  • Member of a sibling group of two or more children to be adopted together
  • Mental or emotional condition(s), verified by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other qualified professional
  • Medical condition, physical disability, or disease that requires ongoing medical attention as verified by a physician

Children must be legally free for adoption, in foster care, and in the custody of the state of Delaware prior to adoption to be eligible for adoption assistance.

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, legally free for adoption, in foster care, and in the custody of the state of Delaware prior to adoption.

3. Are children adopted from private agencies in Delaware eligible for adoption assistance?

Yes, if the child is IV-E eligible and meets the federal IV-E eligibility requirements to receive adoption assistance.

What Supports and Services Are Available?

Monthly Payments

4. What is the maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Delaware?

Basic rates when adopted:
Age Rate
0-9 $396.63
10-15 $451.38
16+ $510.70

Monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment cannot exceed the monthly rate the child was receiving in foster care. This rate varies and is determined by the child’s needs and documented in the child’s level of care (LOC).

5. Does Delaware provide specialized rates (based on the extraordinary needs of the child or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child)?

A child’s level of care (LOC) is determined when he or she enters foster care and re-determined about three months before the adoption petition is filed. This information plus the request for assistance is completed by the social worker, and the specific day-to-day needs of the child are taken into consideration to help determine the adoption assistance rate.

6. When do adoption assistance payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments begin at adoption finalization. For children placed outside of Delaware through an interstate adoption, Delaware may negotiate and sign the adoption assistance agreement at the time of placement so that adoption assistance benefits, specifically Medicaid, are immediately available to the child in the new state of residence.

7. When a child turns 18, which benefits, if any, continue?

All adoption assistance benefits typically ends at age 18. At state option, payments may be continued until 21 years old, if the child has been certified medically fragile or has a severe physical or mental disability certified by a licensed professional. The child must be enrolled in high school and be on track to receive a diploma or its equivalent.

8. Does Delaware offer deferred adoption assistance agreements (agreements where initial monthly maintenance amount is $0 for children at risk of developing special needs later)?


Medical Care

9. What Medicaid services are available in Delaware?

  • Sick visits to see the doctor in the office, at home, a hospital, clinic, or nursing home
  • Hospital care: in-patient and outpatient
  • Clinic visits, public health services
  • Emergency room visits (if there is a true emergency)
  • Laboratory & x-ray services
  • Most prescription drugs ordered by a doctor
  • Many non-prescription drugs such as Tylenol, cough syrup, vitamins, and decongestants ordered by a doctor
  • Pregnancy check-ups for adolescents
  • Family planning for adolescents
  • Transportation arranged by Medicaid to a doctor, clinic, or laboratory
  • Physical, speech, and occupational therapy given at a rehabilitation facility or by a home health agency
  • Certain medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, catheters, and other equipment
  • Routine immunizations
  • Allergy shots
  • Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment Services (EPSDT) for children ages 0 to 20
  • Special services such as eyeglasses, eye exams, and dental care are covered

Other services may be covered if a special medical group says that the service is needed to improve the child’s health

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.)

Non-IV-E eligible children with special needs may receive a Delaware Medicaid card if they received Medicaid while in foster care, before the adoption. Once approved, children receive the same coverage as IV-E children.

11. What mental health services are available?

Public mental health services for children in Delaware are administered by the DSCYF Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (DPBHS), http://kids.delaware.gov/pbhs/pbhs.shtml.

The DPBHS provides prevention services, early intervention services and public behavioral healthcare to children and their families statewide. Our mission is to provide effective prevention and treatment services for children through collaboration with families and service partners.

DPBHS serves:
Provides voluntary prevention, early intervention, behavioral health and substance abuse counseling and other treatment services to children through age 17. We help those children who:

  • are without insurance; or
  • are enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP and who require services more intensive than 30 hours of outpatient treatment in the Medicaid basic child health benefit provided through Managed Care Organizations (MCOs)

Please note: For children with private insurance and/ or Medicaid, parents are encouraged to reference their insurance card for mental health/behavioral health services.

DPBHS services include:

  • Prevention/Early Intervention Services
  • Information and Referral
  • Child Priority Response (Crisis)
  • Outpatient Services
  • Behavioral Health Aides
  • Therapeutic Respite
  • Day Treatment
  • Individual Residential Treatment
  • Residential Treatment
  • Psychiatric Hospital
  • Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

Prevention and Early Intervention Services are offered statewide, directly to children and families through community programs and schools. These services focus on supporting healthy children, families, and communities.

At the outpatient service level, the outpatient service provider will work directly with you and your family.

For all children receiving a service more intensive than outpatient only, a DPBHS clinical coordinator will guide you through every step of the service planning process and be there to answer your questions and concerns. Your coordinator will work with you to plan individualized and integrated services for your child and family.

  • You’ll get a “Handbook for Child/Family Entering Care with DPBHS”.
  • Your family will be part of making decisions about treatment.
  • Information about your child and family will be kept confidential.
  • Our services are voluntary: you choose whether or not to use them.
  • When a child is active with any other Division in the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (child welfare or juvenile justice) or with other agencies, we will work with your family to coordinate your child’s services

Other Benefits

12. In Delaware, what nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption may be reimbursed?

Families can be reimbursed up to $2,000 per child for the following non-recurring expenses: court costs, home study fees and travel (when necessary for pre-placement visits). Families should apply for this reimbursement before adoption finalization. International adoptees are not eligible.

13. Is child care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access child care?


14. Is respite care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access respite care?


15. Is residential treatment available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access residential treatment services?

Residential treatment is not covered by the adoption assistance program. A family may receive such services through the Medicaid program. The treatment facility must already be or be willing to become a Medicaid provider as necessary. The financial responsibility for the child’s needs remain that of the adoptive family.

Residential treatment is available through the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (302-633-2600). For more information, visit http://kids.delaware.gov/pbhs/pbhs.shtml (see question 11 for more information on DPBHS).

16. What other post-adoption services are available in Delaware and how do families find out more about them?

Post-adoption services in Delaware are administered by DSCYF through contracted agencies. Post-adoption services include:

  • Information and referral
  • Support groups
  • Newsletter publication as available
  • Educational materials
  • Limited search services
  • Advocacy

A Better Chance for Our Children (ABCFOC) is the contract agency for Delaware adoptive families and families who have obtained guardianship of children exiting the Delaware foster care system. Families may obtain services by calling the toll-free number at 1-877-533-2212 or for more information can utilize the website at www.abcfoc.org.

Adoptive Families with Information and Support (AFIS) is the contract agency for adoptive families in Delaware. Adoptive families can call the Delaware Help Line at 800-464-4357 or the AFIS Help Line at 302-239-6232 for information and support services.

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.

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. However, later requests will be considered if funding is available and if the case record has written information or documentation or the child’s LOC (level of care) documents that the child’s current needs are a result of pre-existing conditions while the child was in foster care.

What Should Families Know about Applying for Adoption assistance?

18. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?

The Central Office makes these determinations based on the information given by the child’s worker on the application for adoption assistance, the child’s level of care, and any other related documentation.

19. Who makes the final determination on an adoption assistance agreement?

The Division of Family Services retains the authority to determine eligibility for the adoption assistance program.

20. How do families request adoption assistance after finalization of an adoption?

The family needs to contact the Adoption Assistance/Subsidy Specialist to request post-finalization adoption assistance. The specialist will then negotiate any benefits. For additional information, families can contact the state office at 302-633-2661.

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 an adoption assistance agreement at any time. Parents should make requests for a change in writing and send documentation supporting the request. The adoptive family must request the necessary documentation from a licensed physician, psychologist, psychiatrist or other licensed professional to substantiate the need for the change. This information is then presented to the Adoption Subsidy Specialist for review and approval.

Agreements can be renegotiated by the family and the adoption assistance specialist at any time upon request or at the annual review. Assistance agreements are reviewed annually and additional reviews can be requested when necessary. In a review, adoptive parents must furnish the state agency with information on the child’s special needs and the family’s circumstances or changes. Information regarding the child’s well-being includes achievements of the previous year, goals for the coming year, and school grades, and other comments as applicable.

Parents should send requests for change to the following address:

Adoption Unit
Division of Family Services
1825 Faulkland Road
Wilmington, DE 19805

If parents do not receive a requested change in the adoption assistance agreement, they can appeal the decision. (See question 22 below for more information.)

22. What steps does a family go through to appeal an adoption assistance decision in Delaware?

Adoptive parents have the right to request a fair hearing whenever they wish to appeal a DFS decision affecting their child’s adoption assistance benefits. Parents must make a request for fair hearing by submitting a written request to the DFS Director within 30 days of the date of the decision or notice. Requests should explain the reason that parents are requesting a fair hearing and what benefits they are seeking. Denial of an application for assistance or of a request for the continuation of adoption assistance may be appealed by the adoptive parent(s) or by the agency submitting the application by requesting an administrative review of the case and the decision.

The Division Director or a designated staff member will conduct the review. Families can bring a representative, witnesses, and substantiating documentation of their claim with them to the hearing. The Director’s office will review the request to determine if the appeal was made in a timely manner and to determine that the request is being made by the person affected by the decision. A Hearing Officer is then assigned to hear the appeal. The Hearing Officer is an impartial fact finder and decision maker who will create a respectful, non-adversarial environment with which to discuss the case. The Hearing Officer performs the following functions: schedules the fair hearing (appeal); ensures that all parties have been notified of the date, time, and location of the hearing; decides which evidence and witnesses will be considered; mediates the hearing; decides the merits of the appeal (reasons for the adoptive parent’s claims); writes an appeal decision; and ensures that all parties receive a copy of the decision within 30 calendar days of the final hearing.

Parents should send a request for fair hearing to the following address:

Director, Division of Family Services
1825 Faulkland Road
Wilmington, DE 19805

What Else Do Families Need to Know?

23. How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in Delaware?

The program is state supervised/state administered. The Central Office administers the program statewide, while policy and regulations relating to subsidy and other programs are made at the state level. Decisions related to children’s eligibility are made at the state level.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children (the Federal Financial Participation or FFP rate) is 54.17% in Delaware. The remaining cost of the program is funded with state funds.

24. Does Delaware operate a subsidized guardianship program?

No. Delaware had a Title IV-E waiver for guardianship, but it ended on December 3, 2002. Children previously active in the program can continue until they turn 18 years of age or leave the guardian’s residence.

25. Does Delaware offer a tuition waiver program?


26. Does Delaware offer a state adoption tax credit?


27. Does Delaware have any program to support an adoptee whose adoptive parents die until the child is adopted again?


28. What else differentiates Delaware’s adoption assistance program from others around the country?

Not applicable.

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