Updated July 2021

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, Adoption Assistance and Guardianship Assistance Programs, 465 IAC Article 4:

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 child is a ward of DCS at the time the prospective adoptive parent(s) files a petition for adoption or otherwise meets all the Title IV-E or State Adoption Subsidy (SAS) adoption assistance program eligibility requirements;
  2. The adoptive child meets the special needs requirements
    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:
    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. A reasonable but unsuccessful effort must be made to place the child in an appropriate adoptive home without providing adoption assistance, unless it is contrary to the child’s best interest due to :
      1. Significant emotional ties with prospective adoptive parent(s) where the child was placed while in foster care; or
      2. Other specific factors or circumstances documented in the child’s case file and approved by the Indiana Adoption Program Liaison
  3. The child is a US citizen or qualified alien.
  4. The results of the required criminal background checks show no record of a felony conviction for a crime described in 42 USC 671(a)(20)(A) that would disqualify the adoptive parent(s) from receiving adoption assistance payments under 42 USC 673. 
  5. A written Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Agreement or SAS Agreement between DCS and the prospective adoptive parent(s) must be signed on  or before the date that the court enters the Final Decree of Adoption for the child or as otherwise stated in an administrative review decision.  An agreement may not be entered in after the adoption is finalized.  If the adoption is finalized before an agreement is fully executed, the child will not be eligible for adoption assistance under the Indiana Adoption Assistance Program.

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 $21.27/day $23.10/day $26.65/day
Foster Care with Services $29.04/day $30.83/day $34.32/day
Therapeutic Foster Care $41.18/day $42.97/day $46.46/day
Therapeutic Plus $64.93/day $66.72/day $70.21/day
Non-Ward baby $21.27/day $20.87/day  $20.87/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.  Beginning July 1, 2021 the amount offered in negotiation for children who are Therapeutic Foster Care or Therapeutic Plus cannot be less than 50% of the foster care per diem.  

6. When do subsidy payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoption finalization. 

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).

Continuation of AAP Adoption Assistance for Older Youth (AAP-Older Youth) AAP adoption assistance can be extended to youth to age 20 under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-351) if:

The adoption was finalized on or after the child’s 16th birthday (but before the child’s 18th birthday); and

At least one (1) of the following educational or employment conditions continue to be met:

  1. Enrolled in secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential;
  2. Enrolled in an institution which provides post-secondary or vocational education;
  3. Participation in a program or activity designed to promote, or remove barriers to employment;
  4. Employed for at least 80 hours per month; or
  5. Is incapable of doing any of the previously described educational or employment activities due to a medical condition.

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 or calling 888-25-ADOPT (888-252-3678.

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?

Upon approval of a Final Adoption Program Eligibility Determination that a child is eligible for AAP or SAS the local Department of Child Services office will meet with the prospective adoptive parent(s) to discuss the steps and procedures for completing and finalizing the adoption assistance agreement and the adoption of the child.

DCS will provide a copy of the following documents:

  1. The notice of the Final Adoption Program Eligibility Determination;
  2. An adoption assistance agreement currently approved by DCS for use in AAP or SAS cases (whichever is applicable);
  3. The Payment Request Information (PRI) form describing the information needed from the prospective adoptive parent(s) for consideration and discussion with DCS in negotiating and determining any periodic payment to be paid by DCS under the agreement;
  4. The Request for Administrative Review – Indian Adoption Program (SF 54348) for children who have been determined for AAP or SAS, or eligible for SAS due to the determination that the child is not eligible for AAP; and
  5. Other information prepared by DCS staff for consideration in determining the periodic payment amount.

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

Federal IV-E (AAP) and State Adoption Subsidies (SAS) — The Department of Child Services local office attorney.

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 foster care per diem the child would be eligible for based on their current level of need, no sooner than 12 months after the agreement is signed, or 12 months have passed since the last modification. Parents should send a written request for modification to DCS local office that handled the CHINS case or Juvenile Delinquency case at the time the child was adopted.  The request should include the reason supporting their request.

Within 60 calendar days of the date that DCS receives the requested information, DCS will decide whether to grant or deny the request to modify the agreement and will advise the adoptive parent(s) by letter of its decision.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.

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 Department of Child Services
Office of General Counsel, Hearings and Appeals—MS47
302 West Washington Street,  Room E306
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 fully funded with state dollars.

23. Does Indiana operate a subsidized guardianship program?

The Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) is a IV-E funded program. This program is meant to help families where reunification and adoption have been ruled out and Guardianship has been determined to be the best permanency option for a child or sibling group.

The Child must meet the following eligibility requirements:
Be a ward of DCS or Juvenile Delinquency/Juvenile Status (JDJS) and meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Child is age 13 or older*;
  2. Child has been placed in a licensed relative home for at least 6 consecutive months;
  3. Child demonstrates a strong attachment to the prospective relative guardian; and
  4. Court finds and states in an order compelling reasons for guardianship being the preferred permanency option. 

    *Child is a member of a sibling group where at least one of the youths is 13 years of age or older and meets eligibility requirements 2 through 4 above.

The Relative Caregiver must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Be a licensed foster parent;
  2. Be primarily responsible for providing appropriate care, support, maintenance, education and welfare of the child;
  3. All members of the household over age 14 must be checked through the Sexual Offender Registry and CPS; and,
  4. All members of the household over 18 will additionally be required to pass the Fingerprint-based national criminal history check.

Note: Families who applied for the TANF funded Assisted Guardianship Program prior to July 1, 2012 and were determined eligible will continue receiving assistance from that program until the child has aged out of eligibility.

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, see the Indiana Education and Training Voucher program at https://www.indianaetv.org/.

25. Does Indiana offer a state adoption tax credit?

Adoption Credit 859

You may be eligible to claim an adoption credit on your state tax return if you claimed an adoption credit on your federal tax return. The amountof the credit may be as much as 10 percent of the federal credit allowed per child, or $1,000 per child, whichever is less.

Federal adoption carryforward credits.

A carryforward credit claimed on federal Form 8839 may be allowed if any of it is from tax year 2015, 2016, and/or 2017 (carryforward credits from years prior to 2015 are not allowed when figuring the Indiana adoption 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
1-877-265-0086.  Families can e-mail forms directly to the CEU.  If the family hasn’t heard from CEU within 48 business hours, they can contact Jennifer Haselwander.

Direct Deposit form (downloads a fillable PDF file)
W-9 form
Instructions for Direct Deposit and W-9 forms

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

Not applicable.

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