Updated August 2020

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

Jason DeHerrera
Children, Youth & Families Department
Adoption Subsidy Supervisor
P.O. Drawer 5160
Santa Fe, NM 87502

NACAC Volunteer

Currently, there is no New Mexico 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 joshk@nacac.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 New Mexico. 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.

New Mexico adoption resources:

New Mexico state-specific medical assistance information:

New Mexico adoption assistance information:
(see Costs and Financial Assistance)

New Mexico Statute 32A-5-43 through 32A-5-45:

  • In top menu bar, click on Public Access Law
  • Click Search Statutes and Court Rules
  • In main part of page, scroll to 32A Children’s Code and click on it.
  • Click on 5. Adoptions, 32A-5-1 through 32A-5-45
  • Scroll down to 32A-5-43 through 32A-5-45

Who is Eligible for Adoption Assistance?

1. How does New Mexico define special needs to determine eligibility?

A child is determined to have special needs if the child has at least one of the following needs or circumstances that may be a barrier to placement or adoption without financial assistance:

  • Five years of age or older
  • Member of a minority group
  • Member of a sibling group of two or more children to be placed together
  • Has a diagnosis of an emotional, physical, psychological, or mental condition requiring medical intervention

2. Does the state-only funded adoption assistance program differ in any way from the Title IV-E program?

In order to be eligible for state-funded adoption assistance a child must have special needs as defined above.Children who received state-funded adoption assistance are not eligible for Medicaid. However most states will provide Medicaid to children receiving state-funded adoption assistance.

3. Are children adopted from private agencies in New Mexico eligible for adoption assistance?

Children adopted from private agencies may need to meet certain criteria to be eligible for adoption assistance. Each request is case by case. A child may be eligible if they are meet the special needs definition in question 1 and receiving SSI benefits prior to the adoption finalization.

What Supports and Services are Available?

Monthly Payments

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

Monthly maintenance payments are determined through a discussion and negotiation process between adoptive parents and department representatives based on the needs of the child and family circumstances. The payment agreed upon must not exceed the amount the child would receive if the child were in a foster family home.

Age Basic Rate Specialized Rate
0-5 $483.00 $661.80
6-12 $516.00 $694.80
13+ $541.80 $720.00

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

Yes (see rates above). The child must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Be on medication for behavioral or emotional disturbance.
  • Be on Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Be involved in a professionally prescribed treatment program at home that is carried out by the adoptive parent.
  • Be of low enough intellectual functioning to demand extra structure and follow-through. Low intellect must be documented by psychological or diagnostic testing.
  • Have a professionally diagnosed communication disorder, demanding extra structure and follow-through.
  • Have experienced multiple home placements or hospitalizations because of severe behavior or attachment problems.
  • Be acting out, including sexually oriented behaviors. The behaviors must be to the level where the child is in therapy and the special needs certification must be recommended by a therapist and foster parent experienced with children in Department custody. The acting out behaviors must require the foster parents to learn and practice special skills to manage the behavior effectively.
  • Have a mental or physical condition that requires the adoptive parent to learn and practice special skills, including conditions such as failure to thrive, heart disorder, severe asthma or diabetes, crippled limbs, cystic fibrosis, bronchial dysplasia, seizure disorders, or drug affected.

6. When do adoption assistance payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments and benefits begin at adoption finalization.

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

Adoption assistance may be continued until the child’s 18th birthday. For children certified as medically fragile by the Department of Health, adoption assistance can continue until the 21st birthday.

8. Does New Mexico 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 New Mexico?

More information is available from the Medicaid general information line (505-827-3100) and the Client Services Bureau (888-997-2583). New Mexico’s Medicaid program is called Centenntial Care, for information about the program visit, http://www.hsd.state.nm.us/LookingForAssistance/centennial-care-overview.aspx or contact,

Medical Assistance Division
P.O. Box 2348
Santa Fe, NM 87504-2348

Medical Assistance Division – Tribal Liaison
Theresa Belanger
(505) 827-3122

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.)

Children who are not IV-E eligible do not receive Medicaid benefits.

11. What mental health services are available?

Public mental health services for children in New Mexico are administered by the Human Services Department (HSD), Medical Assistance Division (MAD), Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD). Services may include physician services, hospital services, psychological and psychiatric services (outpatient counseling, inpatient treatment), residential treatment care, case management, and drug services. More information is available from the:

Behavioral Health Services Division
1190 Saint Francis Drive, Room North 3300
Santa Fe, NM 87505-6110
505-827-2601 or 800-362-2013

Additional information is available from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA), National Mental Health Information Center for New Mexico Resources: https://nmhealth.org/publication/view/help/1833/.

Information about mental health services covered by Medicaid is available from the general information line (505-827-3100) or the Client Services Bureau (888-997-2583).

Please note that not all services may be available in all cases. Parents should contact their local placement services social worker for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

Other Benefits

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

Parents can be reimbursed for up to $2,000 per child for nonrecurring adoption expenses. Expenses can include attorney fees and court costs, adoption home study and placement supervision, required exams, transportation, lodging and meals.

A child does not have to be Title IV-E eligible to be eligible for reimbursement for nonrecurring costs.

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

No, child care is not available after finalization.

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

Adoption assistance does not pay for respite, but there are post-adoption contractors that offer a variety of respite options (see Question 16). Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options, which can be found using the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service at https://archrespite.org/respitelocator.

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

Costs are covered through the Medicaid program if children are IV-E eligible. State-funded adoption assistance will cover costs at New Mexico Medicaid rates for non-IV-E children. For pre-existing conditions (like counseling) New Mexico will pay for the therapy at New Mexico Medicaid rates directly to the therapist.

Children’s cases must be reviewed by the Office of Managed Care, rated, and approved for placement before payment will be made. New Mexico is currently participating in the Medicaid 032 Program. Those children who are not IV-E eligible will qualify for this program if they are in a group home or residential treatment.

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

Post-adoption services in New Mexico are administered by the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), Protective Services Division and provided by CYFD and private and parent organizations. Post-adoption services include:

  • Information and referral
  • Support groups
  • Therapeutic intervention
  • Specialized equipment
  • Residential treatment
  • Mediation/search services
  • Psychological services

State funds are used to provide for needed post-adoption services not covered under the state’s Medicaid program. Local placement services social workers are available to adoptive families to discuss resources and have information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

Please note that not all services may be available in all cases. Parents should contact their local placement services social worker for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

17. If the assistance listed above in questions 13 to 16 are for specific services, must these services be explicitly identified in the adoption assistance agreement?


What Should Families Know About Applying for Adoption Assistance?

18. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?

When a child is determined to meet criteria for special needs, the Social Worker discusses and negotiates potential subsidy. The request is sent to Central Adoption Unit. Upon review for accuracy, an agreement is sent back to the worker for Parent signature.

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

Final determinations are made by local placement workers and their supervisors.

20. How do families request adoption assistance after finalization of an adoption?

Families must contact the Adoption Assistance Supervisor in writing to request adoption assistance. The case will be assigned to a placement worker in the appropriate county office for negotiation. Families can contact the Central Adoption Unit (505-827-8413) to start the process.

How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?

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

Adoptive parents can request a change in the adoption assistance agreement at the time of the annual review of the agreement if there is a change in the family’s circumstances or the child’s needs. Parents should submit a written request for change in the agreement to the central adoption assistance specialist and substantiate the need for change with documentation supporting the family’s changed circumstances or the child’s increased or decreased needs. The request for a change in the assistance maintenance payment cannot exceed the maximum amount the child would have been eligible for in foster care.

The adoptive parents can appeal a decision they disagree with regarding adoption assistance benefits by following the steps outlined in Question 22 below.

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

Adoptive parents have the right to request a fair hearing whenever a decision by the Children, Youth and Family Department affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. Parents must make requests for a fair hearing in writing to the address below or by calling 800-432-2075 for assistance.

Attn: Adoption Assistance Supervisor
Children, Youth and Families Department
Protective Services
P.O. Drawer 5160
Santa Fe, NM 87502

Once they receive a request for appeal, the adoption assistance specialist sends the request for a hearing to the Office of General Counsel and a hearing officer is appointed. The hearing officer notifies the adoptive family of the date, time, and place for the hearing. The hearing is scheduled as soon as possible but no later than 90 days from the date of the request.

At the hearing, parents may call witnesses and involve an attorney. The hearing officer issues written findings and conclusions for the Cabinet Secretary’s review no later than 30 days after the hearing. The Secretary reviews the hearing officer’s decision within 15 days of receipt. The Secretary’s review and signature represent the final action of CYFD. The hearing officer provides notice of the final action to all parties by certified mail as soon as practical, but no later than 30 days after the Secretary’s decision.

What Else Do Families Need to Know?

23. How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in New Mexico?

The program is state supervised/state administered, which means that both policy and eligibility decisions are made by personnel at the state office.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children—known as the Federal Financial Participation or FFP rate—is 69.65% in New Mexico. The remaining cost of the program is funded with state funds.

24. Does New Mexico operate a subsidized guardianship program?

No. The state had a demonstration waiver that ended December 31, 2006.

25. Does New Mexico offer a tuition waiver program?

New Mexico offers an Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program to give current and former foster youth more opportunities to seek higher education. ETV provides assistance for these youth up to the age of 23, including youth who were adopted from foster care on or after their 16th birthday. Eligibility criteria include youth otherwise eligible for services under the current Chafee program.

ETV provides youth with up to $5,000 to cover the cost of attendance for college or vocational or technical programs. ETV does not affect a student’s eligibility for other federal assistance. For more information, youth may contact Maya McKnight at 827-7450 ext. 1098 or maya.mcknight@state.nm.us.

26. Does New Mexico offer a state adoption tax credit?

Yes. When a child has been classified as a difficult to place and determined to be a child with special needs, the Central Adoption Unit shall certify in writing to the adoptive parent(s) that they are eligible to apply for a New Mexico state income tax credit. The state adoption tax credit is filed on Schedule PIT-RC, it is worth $1,000 per child each year. For more information, families can contact the office of Taxation and Revenue on the web at https://www.tax.newmexico.gov/individuals/online-services-overview/personal-income-tax-forms/

They can obtain a certificate of special needs from, which must be filed with the return the first year the credit is claimed:

Children, Youth & Families Department
P.O. Box 630
Santa Fe, NM 87504

27. Does New Mexico 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?

New Mexico pays adoption assistance via direct deposit or debit cards. The Department of Finance Authority sets the schedule. If parent’s have issues with the payments or questions about the timing of the payment, they can call Jason Deherrera at 505-827-8413 or jason.deherrera@state.nm.us.

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

Not applicable.

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