Updated February 2021
Below you can find information about the adoption assistance benefits that may be available to families who adopt children from foster care in Illinois. 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 & Family Services (DCFS)
1921 S. Indiana Ave, 4th Floor
Chicago IL 60616
Currently, there is no Illinois volunteer. If you or someone you know would like to volunteer to help families learn more about adoption assistance, please call Josh Kroll at NACAC, 800-470-6665 x15 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Illinois. 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 email@example.com. 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:
Illinois’s state-specific medical assistance information:
Illinois’s adoption assistance information:
For Information about Post Adoption assistance and services and to connect with the appropriate post adoption staff person please call the Statewide Call Center: 888-96-ADOPT
Illinois Complied Statutes, 20 ILCS 505/5 (j):
Click on Chapter 20, Executive Branch; next click on 20 ILCS 505/Children and Family Services Act, then scroll down to 20 ILCS 505/5 and look for section (j).
Illinois Administrative Code, 89 III. Adm. Code 302.310, Adoption Assistance:
Who is Eligible for Adoption Assistance or Subsidy?
1. How does Illinois 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:
- One year of age or older
- Member of a sibling group being adopted together where at least one child meets one of the other criteria listed here
- Being adopted by adoptive parents who have previously adopted, with adoption assistance, another child born of the same mother or father
- Irreversible or non-correctable physical mental or emotional disability
- Physical, mental, or emotional disability correctable through surgery, treatment, or other specialized services
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.
3. Are children adopted from private agencies in Illinois eligible for subsidies?
Any non-department child who meets IV-E eligibility rules, meets DCFS requirements, and is under the custody/guardianship of a private agency is eligible for IV-E adoption assistance. State adoption assistance requires that the child be under DCFS guardianship.
What Supports and Services Are Available?
4. What is the maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Illinois?
Children receive the rate they received in foster care or would have received if they had been in foster care.
5. Does Illinois provide specialized rates (based on the extraordinary needs of the child or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child)?
Specialized rates relate to the child’s individual needs, with decisions made on a case-by-case, agency-by-agency basis. To qualify for specialized rates, children must generally have multiple medical needs. Specialized rates are established while the child is in foster care.
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?
All benefits may continue up to the age of 21 for children who are mentally, emotionally, intellectually, or physically disabled. Youth can also receive adoption assistance up to age 19 if they are still in high school.
8. Does Illinois offer deferred adoption assistance agreements (agreements where initial monthly maintenance amount is $0 for children at risk of developing special needs later)?
Illinois no longer provides deferred adoption assistance for new adoptions.
9. What Medicaid services are available in Illinois?
- Independent Laboratory
- Physical rehabilitation
- Psychological tests
- Psychiatric care
- Dental—Payment is made for those services essential to prevent dental disease and to restore and maintain adequate dental function to assure good bodily health of the patient.
- Optician and optometrist—Covered services include the provision of glasses and other materials which are required to restore and conserve vision. Only one pair of glasses will be provided in a 12-month period.
- Therapy providers include physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists/pathologists.
- Medical equipment/supplies—A written recommendation of patient care plan authorized by the individual’s physician is required in the provision of medical supplies and equipment. Medical items/services covered are: a) non-durable medical supplies, b) durable medical equipment, c) prosthesis and orthoses, d) respiratory equipment/supplies and e) repair, alteration, and maintenance of necessary durable medical equipment, prosthesis and orthoses.
- Medical transportation services—If no free transportation is available.
- Inpatient hospital—Providers include general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and physical rehabilitation hospitals. General inpatient hospital services include medical, surgical, pediatric orthopedic, maternity and intensive care services. Inpatient psychiatric hospital enrolled with DPA for this category of service. Inpatient psychiatric services provided by psychiatric hospitals are covered services for recipients under age 21. Regardless of where inpatient psychiatric services are provided, Medicaid coverage is limited to a maximum of twenty (20) days per admission and forty-five (45) days in any calendar year.
- Outpatient hospital—General outpatient hospital services include referred services (physician referral) for lab tests, x-rays, etc., and emergency services.
- Clinic—Included are general clinic services, psychiatric clinic services and physical rehabilitation clinic services.
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.)
Every child adopted with adoption assistance (state or federal) receives a Medicaid card. As such, all children have access to identical medical coverage.
11. What mental health services are available?
Public mental health services for children Illinois are administered through the Department of Public Aid and may include psychological testing, psychiatric care, inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, psychiatric clinic services, and drug prescription.
Please note that services may change and that all recipients are not eligible for all services. Parents should contact their county Medicaid specialist or adoption assistance worker to determine eligibility, availability, and duration of services.
12. In Illinois, what nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption may be reimbursed?
Payment for nonrecurring costs, up to $1,500 per child, are available to any family who adopts a child who qualifies as having special needs. Reimbursements can cover expenses related to adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, travel expenses related to preplacement visits, health and psychological examinations, and any other costs associated with adoption finalization.
13. Is child care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access child care?
Regular daycare is available for any child up to age three if the parent is working or in school. Therapeutic daycare may also be available. Parents should check with their adoption assistance worker for more information.
14. Is respite care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access respite care?
Yes, there are respite programs available statewide to all families that are receiving adoption subsidies from Illinois for the children that they have adopted. The type of respite service provided includes temporary and/or overnight care as well as specialty camp experiences. Services available vary by geographic area of the state and families should check with their adoption or post adoption worker regarding the specific services that they may be eligible for in their region.
15. Is residential treatment available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access residential treatment services?
Adoption assistance does not include a provision for the payment of residential care, but families of children adopted through DCFS who later request residential care are assisted in exploring funding resources for such residential care. The Adoption Preservation Program and the Clinical Division of the Department help the family explore funding options such as an Individual Care Grant through the school system, funding through Local Area Networks (LANS), and any other sources. If funding is not located through these sources, DCFS provides assistance to work with the Residential Services Authority that negotiates funding between the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Children and Family Services, and the Board of Education.
16. What other post-adoption services are available in Illinois and how do families find out more about them?
Post-adoption services in Illinois are administered by the Department of Children and Family Services and through several state-funded, state-contracted, and family organizations. DCFS post-adoption services may include:
- Support groups
- Educational advocacy
- Mental health services
- Community-based services
- Crisis intervention
- Therapeutic intervention
- Case management/advocacy
- Respite care
- Adoption registry
Not all services are always available. Families should contact their adoption assistance worker, local or regional DCFS office, or the statewide Post Adoption and Guardianship administrator for information.
17. If the assistance listed above in questions 12 to 16 are for specific services, must these services be explicitly identified in the adoption assistance agreement?
All services should be identified in the original agreement. However, amendments may be made to the original agreement to add services that relate to a pre-existing condition.
What Should Families Know About Applying for Subsidy?
18. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?
The families caseworker or adoption worker.
19. Who makes the final determination on an adoption assistance agreement?
The final approval signature is by an IDCFS Supervisor.
20. How do families request adoption assistance after finalization of an adoption?
An adoption assistance agreement must be signed and approved prior to the finalization of the adoption as there is no route to apply for adoption assistance following the finalization of an adoption. Families with already signed and approved adoption assistance agreements should contact their post adoption worker following the finalization of the adoption to access any services that are included in the subsidy and to request amendments as appropriate to the agreement.
How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?
21. Can adoptive parents ask to change an adoption assistance agreement?
Families may contact their post adoption worker at any time with a request for an amendment to their agreement or to request a review of their subsidy by the Post Adoption and Guardianship Review Committee.
22. What steps does a family go through to appeal an adoption assistance decision in Illinois?
Adoptive parents can request a fair hearing any time DFCS makes a decision to reduce, change, or terminate adoption assistance. Information about how to file an appeal and who to contact are included in the documents that families receive when there is any decision to change or deny a service level. They can request an attempt at mediation prior to proceeding to a full appeal with an Administrative Law Judge.
What Else do Families Need to Know?
23. How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in Illinois?
The program is state supervised/state administered. This means that state office personnel make both policy and eligibility decisions.
The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children (known as the Federal Financial Participation or FFP rate) is 50.00% in Illinois. The remaining cost of the program is funded with state general revenue funds.
24. Does Illinois operate a subsidized guardianship program?
Yes, after a successful experience with the Subsidized Guardianship Waiver program in Illinois, the state has developed a KinGuardianship Assistance Program through the Fostering Connections legislation.
To be eligible, the permanency goals of reunification and adoption must first be ruled out and the child must be placed with a licensed relative that has been licensed for 6 months during which time the child has been in placement with them. There is one exception for non-relative placements for youth that are 14 years of age or older, but the licensing and placement period requirement is still 6 months.
25. Does Illinois offer a tuition waiver program?
Youth who are receiving adoption assistance and who have completed high school may apply to DCFS for a four-year scholarship. For more information, parents should contact the post-adoption worker in the Region where they receive adoption assistance. There are only 48 scholarships awarded annually and these are for both youth in foster care and adoption.
Youth that move to adoption or guardianship at the age of 16 years or older are also eligible for Education and Transition Vouchers.
26. Does Illinois offer a state adoption tax credit?
27. Does Illinois have any program to support an adoptee whose adoptive parents die until the child is adopted again?
Post Adoption staff and a contracted agent provide supportive services to transition a youth to the point of finalization in a new adoption after the death or incapacitation of an adoptive parent. This support includes the provision of an interim subsidy that is in effect until the completion of a new final subsidy agreement and the finalization of the adoption.
28. What is the payment schedule for adoption assistance? Who do I contact if I haven’t received my payment? Can I receive my adoption assistance through direct deposit?
If you have been receiving subsidy checks regularly and suddenly don’t receive your monthly subsidy check, call the DCFS Payment Unit at 800-525-0499 select #2.
29. What else differentiates Illinois’s adoption assistance program from others around the country?
In addition to the subsidy related services, Illinois provides the Statewide Adoption Preservation Program to all adoptive families in the state. This is intensive, in-home services and has been successful in stabilizing adoptive families throughout the state. These programs have been in place for 20 years.