Updated April 2018

Below you can find information about the adoption assistance benefits that may be available to families who adopt children from foster care in Indiana. 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

Jennifer Haselwander
Assistant Deputy Director
100 N Senate Ave
Room N848 MS48
Indianapolis, IN 46204

NACAC Volunteer

Dawn Cooper
Indiana Post Adoption Network

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. Both federal (Title IV-E or Adoption Assistance Program/AAP) and state (State Adoption Subsidy/SAS) plans are designed to assist adopting parents of children with special needs with financial resources and services to help meet their needs. Children can qualify for the federal Title IV-E adoption assistance program or the state adoption subsidy, 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 Indiana. 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.

Indiana adoption resources on the web:

Indiana’s state-specific medical assistance information:

Indiana’s adoption assistance information:

Indiana Code, Adoption Subsidy IC 31-19-26.5:

Indiana Administrative Code, Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Program, 465 IAC 2-7:

Indiana DCS Adoption Policy Manual Chapter 10.14-10.21:

Who is Eligible for Adoption Assistance or Subsidy?

1. How does Indiana define special needs to determine eligibility?

A child is eligible if all three of the following conditions are met:

  1. The department, or a juvenile court having jurisdiction over the child, has determined that the child cannot or should not be returned to the home of the child’s biological parent and that:
    1. the child’s biological parent has signed or will sign a consent to adoption of the child;
    2. the parent-child relationship between the child and the child’s biological parent has been or will be terminated by a court; or
    3. the court in the adoption case has determined that consent of the child’s biological parent is not required;
  2. One of the following conditions exists:
    1. the child is two years old or older; or
    2. the child is a member of a sibling group that will be adopted by the same family at the same time and at least one child is age two or older; or
    3. the child has a medical condition, or a physical, mental, or emotional disability that is expected to require continuous or long-term medical treatment as determined by a physician licensed to practice in Indiana or another state or territory
  3. Except as described below, reasonable but unsuccessful efforts have been made to place the child in an appropriate adoptive home without providing adoption assistance. Reasonable efforts include, but are not limited to, the following:
    1. internet posting of non-identifying information about the child; or
    2. photo listing of the child in the special needs adoption program picture book (or inclusion of the child in any other procedure or program to promote permanency through adoption that the department develops to replace the picture book) for a minimum of six months; or
    3. other unsuccessful efforts by the department or a licensed child placing agency to recruit appropriate, interested, adoptive parents who are able to meet the child’s needs without adoption assistance.

Reasonable efforts need not be made to place the child without adoption assistance if to do so would be against the best interests of the child because of the existence of:

  1. significant emotional ties with a prospective adoptive parent while in the care of such parent as a foster child, as determined by a local office of the department or Regional SNAP team; or
  2. other special factors or circumstances documented in the child’s case file and approved by the Regional SNAP team, including but not limited to placement with a relative with whom the child has close family ties.

2. Does the state-only funded (State Adoption Subsidy) program differ in any way from the Title IV-E program?

Yes. To be eligible for SAS, a child must meet the following criteria:

  1. The child is not eligible for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program (AAP)
  2. The child is a ward of the Department of Child Services at the time of filing of the adoption petition
  3. The child meets the definition of a hard-to-place child, meaning she is:
    1. a member of a sibling group of two or more being adopted at the same time by the same family and one child is at least two years old, or
    2. age two or older
  4. Meets all three special needs criteria listed under question 1 above.

3. Are children adopted from private agencies in Indiana eligible for subsidies?

Yes, but only in very limited and exceptional circumstances if the child meets all of the Title IV-E eligibility requirements.

What Supports and Services Are Available?

Monthly Payments

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

Maximum rate is set by the foster care rates, but families must negotiate the rate.  The 2018 foster care rates are:

  Ages 0-4 Ages 5-13 Ages 14-18+
Foster Care $20.53/day $22.29/day $25.72/day
Foster Care with Services $28.30/day $30.06/day $33.49/day
Therapeutic Foster Care $40.44/day $42.20/day $45.63/day
Therapeutic Plus $64.19/day $65.95/day $69.38/day
Non-Ward baby $20.53/day $20.53/day  $20.53/day

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

See question 4 for the possible rates based on age and level of need of the child.  

6. When do subsidy payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoption finalization. State Adoption Subsidy payments will not begin until funding is available.

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

Federal IV-E (AAP)— Assistance ends when a child turns 18 (or 21 if it is determined that the child has a medical condition, or mental, physical or emotional disability requiring a continuance of assistance).

County Adoption Subsidy Program (only available before 1/1/09) – Assistance ends when a child turns 18. The family may request continuation but the child will be placed on the waiting list since funding is not currently available. For the child to qualify for continuation, the child must be enrolled in a secondary school, college or university, or course of vocational training leading to gainful employment. Once the child is no longer in school, the subsidy ends. Children on the waiting list will be eligible for Medicaid.  Older adoption, those finalized prior to January 1, 2009, assistance agreements may compromise of the federal AAP and the County program, in these case the County portion of the agreement might be extended but not the federal portion.  

State Adoption Subsidy Program (SAS) — Assistance ends when a child reaches 18. The family may request continuation but the child will be placed on the waiting list since funding is not currently available. For the child to qualify for continuation, the child must have a medical condition, or mental, physical or emotional disability requiring a continuance of assistance or continues in school. Children on the waiting list will be eligible for Medicaid.

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

Yes, Indiana offers medical-only adoption assistance agreements or agreements where the monetary amount is zero.

Medical Care

9. What Medicaid services are available in Indiana?

  • Outpatient hospital services
  • Inpatient hospital services
  • Rural health clinic (including federally qualified health center) services
  • Laboratory and x-ray services
  • \Nurse midwife services
  • Family planning services and supplies
  • Physicians’ services and medical and surgical services of a dentist
  • Nurse practitioners’ services
  • Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis & Treatment (EPSDT)
  • Podiatrists’ services
  • Optometrists’ services
  • Chiropractors’ services
  • Psychologists’ services
  • Medical Social Workers’ services
  • Intermediate care for the mentally retarded
  • Private duty nursing services
  • Clinic services
  • Dental services
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech, hearing, and language disorders
  • Prescribed drugs
  • Prosthetic devices
  • Eyeglasses
  • Nurse Anesthetists’ services
  • Diagnosis services
  • Screening services
  • Preventive services
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Inpatient psychiatric services
  • Christian Science sanitariums
  • Christian Science nurses
  • Nursing facility services
  • Emergency hospital services
  • Transportation services
  • Case management services
  • Respiratory care services
  • Hospice care

Note: Prior approval is required for some medical services

10. What medical benefits are available under the State Adoption Subsidy? (Children who have federally funded/Title IV-E subsidy are automatically eligible for Medicaid benefits.)

A State Adoption Subsidy agreement will include Medicaid if all three of the following conditions are met:

  1. The Department of Child Services entered into a State Adoption Subsidy Agreement that includes Medicaid with the adoptive parents before the adoption is final.
  2. The Department of Child Services has determined that the child cannot be placed with the adoptive parent(s) without medical assistance because the child has special needs for medical, mental health, or rehabilitative care.
  3. There is a documented medical, physical, mental, or emotional condition or cause of condition that existed at the time of the adoption.

Other Benefits

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

Nonrecurring adoption expenses are child-specific and are defined as reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses directly related to the adoption (including costs of adoption preparation and assessment, health and psychological exams for the child, and placement supervision fees). Transportation costs are limited to the adoptive parents and the adoptive child(ren).

To be eligible for reimbursement of up to $1,500 per child, parents must complete an Indiana Adoption Program application, be determined eligible for special needs, and enter into an agreement for payment of nonrecurring adoption expenses prior to the finalization of the adoption.

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

Child care is not available.

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

Yes, in some cases. Parents should contact the local Department of Child Services office in their county of residence for a referral. They may also contact their regional adoption service contact for information: http://www.in.gov/dcs/2747.htm

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

Residential treatment costs are not provided to adoptive families, unless there is court intervention to remove the child based on allegations of abuse or neglect.

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

Post-adoption services include, but are not limited to the following:

  • respite care for adoptive families
  • self-help support groups or adoptive parent buddy system
  • identification of counseling and psychological resources in the community that are sensitive to and knowledgeable regarding the issues surrounding adoption
  • informational and training sessions on effectively parenting children with special needs and
  • Hoosier Heartland Adoption Newsletter

Not all services may be available in all cases. Parents should contact their local Department of Child Services office or their adoption services contact for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services. Indiana’s regional adoption program contact information is available at http://www.in.gov/dcs/2747.htm

16. If the assistance listed above in questions 11 to 15 is for specific services, must these services be explicitly identified in the adoption assistance agreement?


What Should Families Know About Applying for Subsidy?

17. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?

Families work with the child’s family case manager in the local Department of Child Services office to complete the Indiana Adoption Program Application, which is forwarded to the Centralized Eligibility Unit in Indianapolis for processing.

18. Who makes the final determination on an adoption subsidy agreement?

Federal IV-E (AAP) and State Adoption Subsidies (SAS) — The local Department of Child Services office sends the application to the Central Eligibility Unit for determination of eligibility. The Central Eligibility Unit will issue a Final Eligibility Determination within 40 days unless there are unusual or extenuating circumstances. The Final Eligibility Determination is sent to the family case manager.

County Adoption Subsidy Program (CAS) — This program was in effect up to January 2009. The state continues to honor existing agreements, but is not issuing new CAS agreements

19. How do families request a subsidy after finalization of an adoption?

Subsidies are not available and are not issued after the finalization of an adoption unless authorized by an administrative review or appeal decision.

How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?

20. Can adoptive parents ask to change an adoption assistance agreement?

Adoptive parents can request a change in the adoption assistance agreement, up to the maximum of $16.88 per day, any time after the agreement is signed. Changes are made with the mutual agreement of the state agency (through the Central Eligibility Unit) and the adoptive parent(s). Parents should send a written request for modification to the Central Eligibility Unit including the reason supporting their request.

The Central Eligibility Unit will process a Request for Modification. If the request is granted, a modification to the adoption assistance agreement will be drafted and parents will need to sign the new agreement before the change takes effect. If an adoptive parent does not receive the requested change to the adoption assistance agreement, they can file a Request for Administrative Review to dispute the denial.

The Eligibility Unit can be reached at Centralized.Eligibility@dcs.IN.gov

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

Applicants for adoption assistance may request, in writing, an administrative review, within 30 days of a contested action or decision. The Request for Administrative Review form outlines the rights and procedures and is available at http://www.in.gov/dcs/2831.htm. A Request for Administrative Review form is also provided to applicants with the Final Eligibility Determination, which is issued in response to the Indiana Adoption Program Application.

Parents should send the Request for Administrative Review to:

Indiana DCS Field Operations
302 W. Indiana, Room E306 MS 47
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

If the Request for Administrative Review is not revised in favor of the applicant, and the issue is appealable, a Request for Appeal Hearing will be sent to the applicant.

What Else do Families Need to Know?

22. How is the subsidy program operated and funded in Indiana?

Beginning in January 2009, the adoption program became centrally operated with policy and eligibility decisions made by central office. The local Department of Child Services offices support the program and work closely with the families.

IV-E AAP is partially reimbursed by the federal government. State Adoption Subsidies are not currently funded and are placed on a waiting list. If funding becomes available for SAS, payments would be made with state dollars.

23. Does Indiana operate a subsidized guardianship program?

No. Indiana is considering, but has not yet chosen to participate in the IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program.

Indiana does have a TANF-funded guardianship program called the Assisted Guardianship Program, which is available only to children age 13 and older who are placed in licensed relative homes under a guardianship order. The monthly payment is $512 for those who qualify.

24. Does Indiana offer a tuition waiver program?

Indiana does participate in the federal tuition reimbursement program, which is available to children who are adopted on or after age 16.

25. Does Indiana offer a state adoption tax credit?


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

Only if the child is determined to be a Child in Need of Services due to abuse or neglect.

27. 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?

Families should contact the Central Eligibility Unit at Centralized.Eligibility@dcs.in.gov or

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

Not applicable.

Our Mission

The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) supports, educates, inspires, and advocates so adoptive families thrive and every child in foster care has a permanent, safe, loving family.


What We Do
Core Beliefs and Values
Board of Directors
Our Partners
Sponsorship Opportunities


North American Council
on Adoptable Children
970 Raymond Avenue
Suite 106
St. Paul, MN 55114


Staff Contact Info

The North American Council on Adoptable Children