Updated April 2011

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

Kristi Poole
Jean Carson
Michelle O”Ryan
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
2 Anthony Avenue
Augusta, ME 04333

NACAC Volunteer

Bette Hoxie
Adoptive & Foster Families of ME
Old Town, ME 04468

Gail Neher
Adoptive & Foster Families of ME
Cary Plantation, ME 04471-3217

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 Maine. 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:

Maine’s state-specific medical assistance:

Maine’s adoption assistance:

Maine Statute Title 18-A, Article IX, §9-401 to §9-404:

Maine rules for the adoption assistance program:
Scroll down to 10 148 Office of Child and Family Services, then click on the link for Ch. 13 Rules for the Adoption Assistance Program. This will download a small Word document.

Maine Child and Family Services Policy, Section VIII. C. Adoption Assistance:

Who is Eligible for Adoption Assistance or Subsidy?

1. How does Maine 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. A child must:

  • Be five years of age or older
  • Be of minority ethnic/racial background
  • Be a member of a sibling group of two or more children placed in the same household
  • Have a physical, mental, or emotional handicap
  • Have a medical condition
  • Be at risk for future emotional difficulties due to having been a victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, or neglect
  • Be at risk for future problems due to factors in his family background such as severe mental illness, substance abuse, prostitution, genetic or medical conditions or illnesses
  • Children must be legally free for adoption and in the custody of the state of Maine, a tribe, or other licensed child-placing agency 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?


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

Children adopted through the tribes receive assistance if the children are eligible. Children adopted through private agencies may apply for non-recurring adoption expenses if the child has special needs and the agency follows all required recruitment procedures.

What Supports and Services Are Available?

Monthly Payments

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

Effective July 1, 2008, rates for adoption assistance are negotiated for each child based on the child’s needs and the family’s circumstances from $0 to $26.25 per day.

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

Maine offers an exceptional medical rate ($60 per day) for medically fragile children with a high level of medical need:

  • that does or could lead to care in an “intermediate care nursing facility”
  • where the issues will not improve and may become more severe over time and require specialized care to support activities of daily living.
  • where the parent has obtained the training necessary to meet the child’s medical needs and is directly providing that level of care.

Examples of children who meet this criteria are children who require a feeding tube, have congenital heart disease/abnormalities requiring surgery and monitoring, weekly to monthly hospital/specialist monitoring, need kidney dialysis, have severe forms of cancer, and/or severe failure to thrive with long range effects.

6. When do subsidy payments begin?

Adoption assistance benefits may begin at adoption placement.

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

At the state’s option, adoption assistance may be provided until age 21 for children if the Department determines based on all available information that the support is necessary. Eligible children are those who are in need of educational benefits or have severe physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

8. Does Maine 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 Maine?

For information on Maine’s services, contact MaineCare at 1-800-977-6740, option 2 or 1-800-977-6741 TDD/TTY.

10. What medical benefits are available for state-funded children? (Children who have federally funded/Title IV-E subsidy are automatically eligible for Medicaid benefits.)

Non-IV-E children receive the same Medicaid benefits as IV-E children.

11. What mental health services are provided by your State?

Public mental health services for children in Maine are available through a network of public and private mental health providers. The medical assistance program is formerly known as Medicaid and now called MaineCare. MaineCare medical assistance services include the following examples: psychotherapy, family, play, and group therapy, attachment therapy, neurofeedback, inpatient and outpatient hospitalization, and prescription drugs. Mental Health Resources:

DHHS MaineCare: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/ofi/
and MaineCare covered services links: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/oms/pdfs_doc/mainecare%20

See also Maine’s Medicaid (MaineCare) description: http://www.cwti.org/Publications/PAR/finance.htm,

DHHS Behavioral and Developmental Services: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/bh/
and Child Development, Heath, and Medical Resources: http://www.cwti.org/Publications/PAR/CDSHMR.htm

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker or medical assistance specialist for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

Other Benefits

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

The Department will reimburse up to $2,000 per child for reasonable and necessary nonrecurring adoption expenses, including: adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses (the adoption study, health and psychological examinations, costs of placement supervision prior to adoption, and the costs of transportation and food/lodging necessary to complete the placement process) that are directly related to the legal adoption of an eligible child with special needs.

Adoptive families must sign an agreement with the Department for reimbursement of nonrecurring expenses before the final adoption decree. All claims for reimbursement must be filed within two years of the final decree.

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

Adoptive families should contact the Child Care Voucher program for possible funding at 207-624-7900.

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

No formal program is offered by the adoption assistance program, but some adopted children qualify for one weekend per month of respite through the Children’s Behavioral Health or and Child Developmental Services. The Adoption Assistance office can provide referral information.

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service (http://archrespite.org/respitelocator), search by state to locate Maine’s respite programs

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

Residential placement or treatment (including specialized foster care provided through a mental health facility or other agency) is the legal responsibility of the Division of Children’s Behavioral Health (CBHS). The adoption subsidy program provides Medicaid, which pays for the treatment costs; the Department of Education pays for the educational costs; and CBHS pays for the remaining room and board costs.

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

Some post-adoption services in Maine are administered by the Department of Health & Human Services through an eight-district system of DHHS and parent-sponsored programs. Post adoption services may include:

  • Information and referral
  • Adoption sensitivity training
  • Support groups
  • Adoption reunion registry
  • Therapeutic intervention
  • Advocacy
  • Respite care
  • Residential treatment in cost share agreements with the family

Casey Family Services also provides post-adoption services, contact: Portland 800-559-1115 or Bangor 866-662-2739.

Support programs in Maine take several forms, including:

  • Child Welfare Training Institute’s Adoptive Family Resources: http://www.cwti.org/Links/aff.htm
  • Maine’s Post Adoption Resource Guide (PAR): http://www.cwti.org/Publications/PAR/PARGuide.htm
  • Maine’s Post Adoption Services: http://www.cwti.org/Publications/PAR/PAS.htm
  • Adoption and Foster Families of Maine (AFFM): http://www.affm.net/
  • Post-adoption support groups: http://www.affm.net/Services/SupportGroups.aspx

Parents who want post-adoption services for children adopted from the Department of Health & Human Services can apply by phone through the District office where the child was adopted or the DHHS office where the child is currently living. To find the DHS office: https://gateway.maine.gov/dhhs-apps/office_finder/.

Not all services may be available in all cases. Parent 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 11 to 14 are for specific services, must these services be explicitly identified in the adoption assistance agreement?

Yes, if needs are known at the time. It is possible to modify agreements to include specified services for a limited time or for a one time payment of services with Central office approval.

What Should Families Know About Applying for Subsidy?

18. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?

The child’s caseworker is normally the one that initiates and negotiates the adoption assistance agreement.

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

The state adoption program specialist (using all information provided by the district office involved) makes the determination.

20. How do families request a subsidy after legalization of an adoption?

Families should contact:

Jean Carson or Michelle O’Ryan
Department of Human Services
2 Anthony Avenue, SHS # 11
Augusta, ME 04333

How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?

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

An adoptive parent can request a change in the adoption assistance agreement any time there are changes in the child’s needs or family’s circumstances. Parents must make request in writing and must document need, using forms supplied by the Department at the time of request. Requests should be made to Jean Carson or Michelle O’Ryan (contact information in question 20 above).

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

If an adoptive family disagrees with a Departmental decision (not including across the board rate changes) that affects their subsidy, they may appeal the decision by requesting an administrative hearing. Maine adoption assistance workers are responsible for making individuals interested in adopting with assistance aware of their rights to appeal Department decisions.

Parents must send a written request for an administrative hearing to Maine’s Department of Health & Human Services Commissioner or Adoption Program Manager within 10 days of receipt of the contested decision. Failure to respond within 10 days will result in this decision becoming final. Written requests must be submitted to:

Commissioner (or designee) of the Department of Health & Human Services
Department of Health & Human Services
State House Station #11, 221 State Street
Augusta, ME 04333

An administrative hearing officer will conduct a hearing with all parties present to review the Department’s action and will issue a ruling. If parents disagree with the hearing officer’s decision, they have the right to appeal to Superior Court.

What Else do Families Need to Know?

23. How is the subsidy program operated and funded in Maine?

The program is state supervised/state administered, with eight district offices. Policy and eligibility decisions are made by personnel at the state office. All caseworkers are in district offices.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children (the Federal Financial Participation/FFP) rate is 61.55% in Maine. The remaining cost of the program is funded entirely with state money.

24. Does Maine operate a subsidized guardianship program?

A Permanency Guardianship program was implemented on April 3, 2006. The subsidy rates will be the same as those offered in adoption assistance. This is a state-funded program only for children who have been in the foster care system. The family must meet all of the same requirements as foster and adoptive families. The program is open to relatives and non-relatives.

25. Does Maine offer a tuition waiver program?

Tuition Waiver—youth who were adopted from foster care AND whose parents are receiving an adoption subsidy from DHHS can apply for one of 30 waivers that can be used at State of Maine Universities, Community Colleges, or Maine Maritime. Waivers are awarded on first come, first served basis—apply early. The applicant must be a Maine resident and must reapply each year. The waiver is available for undergraduate degrees only, up to 5 years. Application available Feb. 1. Administered through FAME (www.famemaine.com)

ETV Funds—available through DHHS for youth adopted after their 16th birthday. The college or training program must be accredited, student must be making satisfactory progress toward completing their program of study. Some federal restrictions for use of funds. Youth who receive ETV funds at age 21 can receive them until age 23. Awards vary–depending on available funds & need after other financial aid is determined, up to $5000. Youth who receive ETV funds at age 21 can receive them until age 23. Contact Dulcey Laberge 624-7928, Dulcey.laberge@maine.gov

FAFSA—must be completed to access other funds. Finanical Aid given on a first come/first served basis. Must be completed every year. Must get a PIN before or during the application. Beginning in Jan. (https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa)

Independent Student Status (FAFSA)—through the College Costs Reduction Act, any youth adopted on or after their 13th birthday is considered “independent” on the FAFSA and do not have to provide parent info (income) or signatures.

Find out more from:
Dulcey Laberge
Youth Transition Specialist
Maine Department of Health and Human Services
2 Anthony Avenue – SHS#11
Augusta, ME 04333

26. Does Maine offer a state adoption tax credit?


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


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?

Adoption subsidy checks are sent out bi-weekly. Families can receive their adoption subsidy payments via direct deposit.

Families who are having problems with their payment can contact Kristi Poole, Michelle O’Ryan, or Susan Harris at 207-624-7966.

29. What else differentiates Maine’s adoption assistance program from others around the country?

Because of its expansive definition of special needs, Maine qualifies almost all of its children for some level of adoption assistance.

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