Updated February 2019
Below you can find information about the adoption assistance benefits that may be available to families who adopt children from foster care in Louisiana. Adoption subsidy policies and practices are, for the most part, dependent on the state where the child was in foster care before the adoption.
Cheryl Garafola Tirado
Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services
627 N 4th St
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
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 Louisiana. 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 Volunteer (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:
Louisiana’s state-specific medical assistance links:
Louisiana Revised Statutes RS 46:1790 through 46:1794:
This links to RS 46:1790, you can click on the Next Section to get to other statutes.
Louisiana Administrative Code, Title 67 Social Services, Chapter 49, Adoption Subsidy Program:
Scroll down and click on Title 67, Social Services. This will download a large (2.3 MB) Word document. Chapter 49, Adoption Subsidy Program, is on pages 169–171.
Who is Eligible for Adoption Assistance or Subsidy?
1. How does Louisiana 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 adoption without financial assistance:
- Age 5 or older
- Is of a ethnicity that creates a barrier to adoption
- Is a member of a sibling group of two or more children who should not be separated
- Has a physical, mental, or emotional disability
- Has a severe chronic medical condition
- Has a significant or chronic mental health condition or is genetically predisposed to or has birth family risk factors for a medical or mental health condition
Exceptions to the definition of a child with special needs may be made on a case-by-case basis. Children must be legally free for 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 child with special needs as defined above, be legally free for adoption, and be in the custody (foster care) of Louisiana. In addition, the adoptive family must undergo an annual income analysis also known as a means test. The income analysis determines whether a prospective adoptive family’s income exceeds the state’s eligibility requirements to qualify for state-funded adoption assistance. Under certain circumstance an exception can be made if the family’s income exceeds the guidelines.
3. Are children adopted from private agencies in Louisiana eligible for subsidies?
Children adopted from private agency custody receive adoption assistance only if they meet federal (IV-E) eligibility criteria. Children placed through private agencies are ineligible for state-funded adoption assistance.
What Supports and Services Are Available?
4. What is the maximum basic adoption assistance maintenance payment in Louisiana?
|Birth through age 1||$12.46/day|
|2 to 5||$10.86/day|
|6 to 12||$11.97/day|
|13 to 17||$13.36/day|
5. Does Louisiana provide specialized rates (based on the extraordinary needs of the child or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child)?
Children who were previously in therapeutic or specialized foster care may be eligible for up to $258 per month in additional adoption assistance. For details as to what types of impairments or disabilities qualify children for specialized rates, families should contact their local adoption worker or their regional adoption supervisor or district supervisor. If the children’s needs change after adoption, they may also be eligible for the specialized rates (see question 21 about this process).
6. When do adoption assistance payments begin?
Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin on the first day of the month following the month in which the adoption petition is filed with the court.
7. When a child turns 18, which benefits, if any, continue?
Medicaid can continue until the child turns 19, but other benefits end at 18.
8. Does Louisiana 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 Louisiana?
A list of covered services is available at http://new.dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/319. Below is a partial list of contacts for key issues.
For additional questions about Medicaid services, call the Bureau of Health Services Finances, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, 225-342-5774.
- HIV, Case Management Services—225-342-2778, 225-219-9939
- Infants/Toddlers, Case Management Services—225-342-8820
- MR/DD Waiver, Case Management Services—225-342-8843
- Durable Medical Equipment—225-342-3935; 225-342-4839; or 225-342-1247
- EPSDT Case Management Services—225-342-8223
- EPSDT Dental Services—225-342-9403
- EPSDT Personal Care Services—225-342-9485
- EPSDT Psychological and Behavioral Services—225-342-9485
- EPSDT Services – KIDMED—225-342-1461
- Home Health (PT, OT and Speech/ Language Therapy—225-342-4839
- Hospital, Inpatient Services—225-342-2715; 225-342-2119 or 225-342-9475
- Hospital, Outpatient Services or Emergency Services—225-342-2119 or 225-342-9475
- Laboratory Tests/X-rays—225-342-9490
- Medical Transportation (Emergency/Non-Emergency)— 225-342-2604
- Mental Health Clinics—225-342-6255
- Optical Services— For Eyeglasses, 225-342-9403; all other optical services, 225-342-9490
- Pharmacy Services—225-342-9768
- Physician/Professional Services—225-342-9490
- Podiatry Services—225-342-9490
- Pre-Natal Care Services—225-342-9490
- Therapy Services—225-342-1461
- Waiver Services—866-783-5553
- Children’s Choice Waiver—225-342-8762
- Rural Health Clinics—225-342-3870
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—including those living in Louisiana but adopted from other states—are eligible for Medicaid benefits if they have special needs for medical, rehabilitative, and mental health services. The Medicaid coverage will extend until the child turns 19.
11. What mental health services are available?
Public mental health services for children in Louisiana are administered by the Department of Health and Hospitals, Bureau of Health Services Financing (Medicaid). Eligible children may receive mental health services through the EPSDT Psychological and Behavioral Services Interim Program. Services may include evaluations, family education and training, clinical intervention, periodic follow up, linkages to emergency mental health services in crisis situations, and psychological services.
For more information, visit http://new.dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/subhome/10/n/6 or call 877-455-9955. For general information about Medicaid, visit http://new.dhh.louisiana.gov/.
12. In Louisiana, what nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption may be reimbursed?
Parents may be reimbursed up to $1,000 per child for expenses such as legal fees, court costs, revised birth certificates, and possibly agency fees. The amount of payment shall be determined through agreement between the adopting parents and the Office of Community Services. There is no means test. To be eligible, families must have signed an adoption assistance agreement before or at the time of final adoption decree. International adoptees are not eligible.
13. Is child care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access child care?
As of July 31, 2008, new adoption assistance agreements do not provide child care. Existing agreements that included child care will continue to provide that service until it is no longer needed.
14. Is respite care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access respite care?
Yes, respite care is provided if it is approved during the initial process of assessing the child’s needs and approving adoption assistance.
15. Is residential treatment available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access residential treatment services?
The adoption assistance program does not provide payment for residential care. If services are Title XIX eligible, they may be accessed through Medicaid.
Louisiana may offer in-hospital mental health services in adoption assistance agreements executed after September 1, 2001 if the following conditions are met:
- Funding is appropriated by the legislature for such services (currently unfunded);
- The child was in the custody of DSS at the time the adoption assistance agreement was signed;
- Services are only for acutely medical in-hospital mental health treatment; and
- The child is not eligible for, or has otherwise exhausted benefits under Medicaid, LA CHIP, or any other benefit/insurance plans.
16. What other post-adoption services are available in Louisiana and how do families find out more about them?
Post-adoption services in Louisiana are administered by the Department of Social Services, Office of Community Services (OCS) and include the following:
- Information and referral
- Educational programs
- Educational materials
- Support programs
- Therapeutic intervention
- Respite care
- Resource libraries
- Voluntary reunion registry
Parent organizations such as the Louisiana Foster/Adoptive Parent Association (www.lfapainc.org/985-789-0071) provide support. The Louisiana Advocacy Support Team (888-655-9564) can help identify services and work with state agencies.
Not all services may be available in all cases. Parents should contact their adoption assistance worker, post-adoption services specialist, or local regional office for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.
Since January 20, 2006 tutoring and orthodontia are no longer available services under adoption assistance.
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?
What Should Families Know About Applying for Subsidy?
18. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?
The child’s adoption assistance worker initiates the agreement.
19. Who makes the final determination on an adoption assistance agreement?
Regional offices are typically responsible for approving all adoption assistance cases. The regions must provide copies of approvals to the state office’s program manager for review and consultation. The program manager is responsible for approvals of subsidies after finalization, private agency requests, and independent (no agency involvement) adoption assistance requests.
20. How do families request adoption assistance after finalization of an adoption?
Families may access adoption assistance after finalization if the child was previously in the state foster care system if one or more of the following criteria is met:
- Relevant facts regarding the child, biological family, or child’s background were either unknown or not presented to the adoptive parents before finalization;
- Erroneous denial of the adoption assistance based upon a means test (for non-IV-E children only);
- Erroneous determination by the state that a child is ineligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance; or
- Failure by the state agency to advise adoptive parents of the availability of adoption assistance.
To start the process, families should contact the Adoption Specialist in the regional office. The specialist will complete the application process and submit it to the state office Adoption Assistance Program Manager for a decision
How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?
21. Can adoptive parents ask to change an adoption assistance agreement?
Adoptive families may request changes to the adoption assistance agreement at any time whenever the child’s needs or the family’s circumstances change. Adoptive parents should contact their adoption assistance worker in the child’s region of origin to discuss the changing circumstances and to request a modification. Find offices at http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=directory&tmp=home&nid=247&pid=0#undefined.
All agreements are reviewed annually until the child turns 18. For state-funded adoption assistance, the review includes another means test (see question 2 for more information about the means test). In some cases, families can receive exceptions to the means test at the annual review.
If a child is receiving a special board rate, the child’s needs and whether the child is still living with the family will be reviewed annually in case the rate needs to be re-determined. Families can request any needed changes in the adoption assistance at this time. The annual review for the special board rate does not include a means test for either Title IV-E or state-funded adoption assistance.
22. What steps does a family go through to appeal an adoption assistance decision in Louisiana?
Adoptive parents who disagree with an OCS decision related to their adoption assistance application or who feel that their civil rights were violated in the process may request a fair hearing to appeal the decision. The adoption assistance application and notification of decision provide directions for this process, and the application can be used to request a hearing.
As a matter of agency thoroughly reviewed with all adoption assistance applicants.
Adoptive parents should make a request for a fair hearing in writing within 30 days of receiving written notification of the agency’s final decision. Upon notification of the adoptive parent’s request, the Appeals Section will schedule the fair hearing and notify all concerned parties in writing of the hearing date, time, and location. Adoptive parents may represent themselves at the hearing or may authorize someone else to assist them (legal counsel, relative, friend or other spokesperson). Fair hearing decisions are binding.
Adoptive parents may send their appeal requests either to the local regional Office of Community Services or to:
DSS Appeals Section
P.O. Box 2944
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
What Else do Families Need to Know?
23. How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in Louisiana?
The adoption assistance program is state supervised and region or parish administered. Louisiana is divided into state and regional offices. The state office makes policy and indirectly supervises the regional and parish offices. Parish offices work directly with families.
The federal participation rate for Louisiana’s Title IV-E maintenance assistance payments is 65 percent. The remaining costs are funded with state dollars.
24. Does Louisiana operate a subsidized guardianship program?
Louisiana offers a kinship care subsidy program (effective March 1, 2000) to provide cash assistance for eligible children who reside with qualified relatives other than biological parents. For more information go to this website http://dcfs.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=466#undefined.
25. Does Louisiana offer a tuition waiver program?
26. Does Louisiana offer a state adoption tax credit?
27. Does Louisiana have any program to support an adoptee whose adoptive parents die until the child is adopted again?
In the case of a deceased adoptive parent, the state will provide state-funded assistance to the child’s legal guardian(s).
28. What else differentiates Louisiana’s adoption assistance program from others around the country?