Updated August 2020

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

Alicia Allen
Ohio Department of Job & Family Services
Office of Families and Children
4200 E Fifth Ave 
Columbus, OH  43219

NACAC Volunteer

Tim O’Hanlon
Columbus, OH 43212

What Is Adoption Assistance?

Parents who are thinking about or are in the process of adopting a child from foster care should know about adoption assistance (also known as adoption subsidy). Adoption assistance programs are designed to help parents meet the needs of children they adopt from foster care. Children can qualify for federal adoption assistance or state assistance, depending on the child’s history. (For more information on federal adoption assistance (Title IV-E) eligibility, view our fact sheet Eligibility and Benefits for Federal Adoption Assistance.)

Answers to select questions were made available by the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance through the Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov).

If you have state-specific questions, call your State Agency Adoption Assistance Contact or the NACAC Volunteer (listed above). If you have questions about a specific adoption assistance payment (such as the payment being late or you are changing addresses or bank account), call your State Agency Adoption Assistance contact or the general number for that agency.

For other questions, contact NACAC at 651-644-3036, 800-470-6665, or adoption.assistance@nacac.org.

Adoption resources on the web:

Ohio’s state-specific medical assistance links: 

Ohio’s adoption assistance links: 
https://fosterandadopt.jfs.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/ofc/ohio-childcare-needs/resources(See the ODJFS Factsheet on Adoption, Supporting Families after Finalization, Adoption Subsidies)

Who Is Eligible for Adoption Assistance?

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

The special needs determination for adoption assistance eligibility must be made before adoption finalization by the public children services agency (PCSA). The PCSA must determine that:

  • The child cannot or should not be returned home to his or her parent(s).
  • Reasonable, but unsuccessful, efforts have been made to place the child without adoption assistance.  There are exceptions when it is contrary to the best interest of the child.

If the child meets both criteria above, then the PCSA shall determine if the child has one or more of the following factors or conditions that make it difficult to place the child without adoption assistance or medical assistance:

  • The child is six years of age or older.
  • The child is at least one year old and is a member of a minority racial or ethnic group that makes it difficult to place the child for adoption.
  • The child is part of a sibling group being adopted together or is being placed in the same adoptive placement of a sibling previously adopted.
  • The child has been diagnosed by a qualified professional with a developmental disability, developmental delay, mental illness, or medical condition.
  • The child has been in the permanent custody of a PCSA or private child-placing agency (PCPA) for more than one year before an adoptive placement.
  • The child experienced a previous adoption disruption or multiple placements while in the custody of a PCSA or PCPA.
  • The child has been placed in foster care in the home of his or her prospective adoptive parent(s) for at least six consecutive months directly preceding the adoptive placement, and the child would experience severe separation and loss if placed in another setting due to his or her significant emotional ties with these foster parent(s) as documented by a qualified mental health professional.
  • The child has a social or medical history or the biological family’s social or medical history that may place the child at risk of acquiring a medical condition, a physical, mental or developmental disability, or an emotional disorder.
  1. Does the state-only funded adoption assistance program differ in any way from the Title IV-E program?

Yes, in order to be eligible for state-funded adoption assistance a child must have special needs as defined above, legally free for adoption, and in the custody of a public children services agency or private child-placing agency. The child must also be under the age of eighteen, or between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one with a mental or physical disability as diagnosed by a qualified professional, placed in an adoptive home approved by a public children services agency, private child placing agency or private non-custodial agency. 

For state-funded adoption assistance, the adoptive family must undergo a resource analysis—often referred to as a means test. To qualify for state-funded adoption assistance the family’s income cannot exceed 120 percent of the state’s median income for a family of the same size).

  1. Are children adopted from private agencies in Ohio eligible for adoption assistance?

Yes, private agencies follow the same procedures in establishing adoption assistance as the public children services agency. The private child-placing agency must establish eligibility through a public agency. Together, the agencies must determine that the child meets the special needs definition outlined in Question 1.

What Supports and Services Are Available?

Monthly Payments

  1. What is the maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Ohio?

    Foster care maintenance rates, upon which adoption assistance rates are based, vary from county to county and from child to child based on the child’s needs.  Children with the same needs may receive a different foster care or adoption assistance payment because of the differences between the counties.

The maximum amount a child qualifies for in adoption assistance is the foster care maintenance rate for the child, but counties negotitate the rate and is often lower than the foster care rate.

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

On July 1, 2014, the state began implementing the Monthly Adoption Assistance Statewide Maximum (MAASM) for Title IV-E adoption assistance. The MAASM rate is $1,045 per month. If the family and county negotiate a rate for a child that is higher than the MAASM rate of $1,045, the county will request a waiver from the state office to pay that higher rate.

Regardless of the MAASM rate, the maximum adoption assistance payment is the foster care maintenance payment. For example, if the child is receiving $800 per month in foster care maintenance, then the most that child could receive in adoption assistance is $800 per month.  However, if the foster care rate is $1,500 per month, and the family and county agree that $1,400 per month is acceptable in adoption assistance, the county will seek a waiver from the state to exceed the MAASM limit of $1,045 per month.

  1. When do adoption assistance payments begin?

Adoption Assistance (AA) monthly payments begin when there is a mutually agreed upon agreement and the following has been completed:

  • PCSA has determined that the child meets all eligibility requirements
  • The child is placed for adoption
  • Adoption Assistance agreement is completed and signed by all parties
  1. When a child turns 18, which benefits, if any, continue?

State-Funded Subsidies and Federal Adoption Assistance—Payments end when a child turns 18 unless the child has been diagnosed by a qualified professional to have a mental or physical disability, in which case payments would continue until that person is 21.

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

Yes. If a child is determined to be at risk for developing one of the conditions as described in question 1 above, the child is eligible for Medicaid. The county and parents will sign an adoption assistance agreement that provides the medical coverage and no monthly payment.

Medical Care

  1. What Medicaid services are available in Ohio?
  • Physician services
  • Hospitalization
  • Lab work
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Dental services
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services

For more information, parents can contact the Ohio Medicaid Consumer Hotline at 800-324-8680 or the Provider Hotline, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System at 800-686-1516, or visit www.medicaid.ohio.gov.

  1. 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 receive state-funded adoption assistance can receive Medicaid, but only if the county department of job and family services determines that the child has a disability that warrants coverage and the family’s income is low enough to qualify for assistance.

  1. What mental health services are available?

Public mental health services for children in Ohio are administered by the Department of Jobs and Family Services through Medicaid and other sources. Mental health services may include hospitalization, physician services, prescription drugs, and mental health services. Specific mental health services include:

  • Medical and surgical services, including respite care if required
  • Psychiatric, psychological, and counseling services, including respite if required
  • Maintenance costs as part of a residential treatment program 

Post Adoption Special Services Subsidy (PASSS) may also be used as another source of funding for children’s mental health services in Ohio. (See Question 16 for more about PASSS.)

Not all services may be available in all cases. Parents should contact their adoption assistance worker or medical assistance specialist for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services, and other benefits.
For more information about mental health services:

Other Benefits

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

Parents may be reimbursed for up to $1,000 in nonrecurring adoption expenses, which are the reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses they had that were directly related to the legal adoption of a child who has been determined to have special needs. The expenses can also include the costs of the following, if they are paid by the adoptive parents: adoption homestudy, health and psychological examinations, supervision of the placement before finalization, reasonable cost of transportation, lodging, and food for the child and adoptive parent(s) when necessary to complete the placement or adoption process.

Expenses related to internatinal adoptions (whether the child was adopted in the home country or brought to the U.S. for purposes of adoption) are not eligible for reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses.

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

The cost of child care can be negotiated and included in the adoption assistance amount.

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

Medical and mental health respite services may be covered under the PASSS program. (See Question 16.) Families should contact their public children’s services agency worker for more information on how to access this service. In addition, many private organizations offer respite options. Parents can search for Ohio respite programs in the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service at http://archrespite.org/respitelocator.

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

PASSS does cover some residential care, based upon approval of the PCSA Review Committee. (See Question 16.) The limited amount of funding available may require the agency to seek coordinated funding from other systems serving children, especially the mental health and mental retardation systems. Families may also receive funding to support residential care from individual county agencies, through interagency collaboration, and from the State Interdepartmental Cluster if the case is referred by county councils or clusters.

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

Ohio offers a program known as Post Adoption Special Services Subsidy (PASSS). PASSS is available to all adoptive families in Ohio, except those who completed stepparent adoptions, regardless of the type of adoption (international, attorney, public or private agency). PASSS is negotiated after adoption finalization and provides funding to families to cover the reasonable costs of allowable services to address the child’s physical or developmental disability or mental or emotional condition. To be covered the child’s condition must have existed before the adoption petition was filed or have developed after the adoption petition was filed and be attributed to factors in the child’s pre-adoption background or medical history or the biological family’s background or medical history.

Funding is available only when the assistance sought exceeds the adoptive family’s private resources.  There are limits on the availability of state funding. An adoptive family may access up to $15,000 per year in PASSS funding, with family’s typically limited to $10,000. The additional $5,000 is accessible only under extraordinary circumstances. Applications for assistance are reviewed by a Review Committee and can be approved in whole or in part, based on the child’s needs and the family’s circumstances.

PASSS funds may be used for the following: psychological/psychiatric therapy, individual or family counseling, speech therapy customized physical equipment/devices, medical supplies, rehabilitative services, and surgical costs. If assistance is not granted or is not granted in the amount requested, adoptive parents may request a fair hearing. See Question 22 for information about fair hearings.

  1. 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?

There is a separate application form for PASSS. The application/agreement form for PASSS requires specifics regarding the problem and service or array of services requested to deal with the need.

What Should Families Know about Applying for Adoption assistance?

  1. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?

The public children services agency (PCSA) initiates the agreement.

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

Ohio’s child protection program is a state-supervised/county-administered program. Eligibility determinations and subsidy determinations are the responsibility of the PCSA in each of Ohio’s 88 counties.

For adoption assistance agreements that are higher than the MAASM rate of $1,045 per month, the state office makes the final approval.

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

Adoptive parent(s) of a child with special needs may apply for Title IV-E adoption assistance after the adoption is finalized if the adoption assistance agreement was not executed before finalization because either:

  • The public children’s services agency (PCSA) or private child-placing agency (PCPA) knew relevant facts about the child and did not present the facts to the adoptive parent(s) before finalization
  • PCSA or PCPA failed to advise adoptive parent(s) of availability of adoption assistance

How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?

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

Before expiration of an adoption assistance agreement, the adoptive parent(s) and the PCSA may, by mutual agreement, amend the agreement. Any request for an amendment must contain newly documented special needs or family circumstances that were not previously subject to the current agreement. Adoptive parents can request an amendment at any time by requesting an amendment from the PCSA that administers the agreement. If the parent and the agency cannot agree on the amendment, the parent can request a state hearing. An adoptive parent who does not receive a requested change may request a fair hearing. See Question 22 for information regarding fair hearings.

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

If an adoptive family receives a notice denying eligibility, the requested amount of the adoption assistance, reducing the assistance, terminating assistance, or services, the notice will contain a form to request a fair hearing. Parents are directed to fill out the request form and mail it to State Hearings at the address listed below. Families may also fax hearing requests to State Hearings at 614-728-9574. Requests for fair hearing must be received within fifteen (15) days of the mailing date on the notice. If an adoptive parent receives a notice that assistance or services will be reduced, restricted, or terminated, the action will not be taken until the hearing is decided if the hearing request is received within the fifteen (15) days. To request a fair hearing, a family may call or write the local agency or write to the following address:

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, State Hearings 
30 East Broad Street, 31st Floor 
Columbus, Ohio 43215-3414 
Fax: 614-728-9574

Requests for fair hearing must be received within 15 days of the mailing date on the notice. The agency will not reduce, restrict, or terminate assistance if the hearing request is received within the 15 days.

Parent can learn more about state hearings at http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/file.asp?id=1043&type=application/pdf.

What Else Do Families Need to Know?

  1. How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in Ohio?

Ohio is a state supervised/county administered system, which means that the state office sets policy and indirectly supervises the county agencies. The county agencies work directly with families and make eligibility and benefit decisions.

As of October 1, 2014, the federal participation rate for Ohio’s Title IV-E adoption assistance payments is 62.32 percent for the entire monthly adoption assistance subsidy. If the adoption assistance payment is more than $250 per month, then families will get two checks, one from the state and other from the county. 

  1. Does Ohio operate a subsidized guardianship program?

No. Ohio does offer a Kinship Permanency Incentive Program (KPIP). The KPIP program provides support to relatives who take custody or guardianship. The relatives can receive $525 for the first six-month period, and can re-apply every six months for an additional five times. Each of the subsequent payments, if approved, is $300.

  1. Does Ohio offer a tuition waiver program?


  1. Does Ohio offer a state adoption tax credit?

Yes. The State Adoption Tax Credit is a tax credit for the expenses incurred in the legal adoption of a minor child (less than 18 years old). The State Adoption Tax Credit is limited to $1,500 per child adopted during the taxable year. Any unused amounts can be carried forward for up to two years. For additional information on the State Adoption Tax Credit, parents can call the Ohio Department of Taxation at 800-282-1780 or visit www.tax.ohio.gov.

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

Ohio does not have any programs to support an adoptee whose adoptive parents die until the child is adopted again. If the adoptive parents die, the public children services agency that entered into the agreement will terminate the adoption assistance agreement. However, if the child is adopted again by another family, they are eligible for adoption assistance.

  1. What else differentiates Ohio’s adoption assistance program from others around the country?

Ohio operates the Post-Adoption Special Services Subsidy (PASSS), which is discussed throughout this profile, primarily in Question 16.

Ohio Legal Sources:

Ohio Revised Code 5153.163

Ohio’s Administrative Code 5101:2-44 and 5101:2-49 

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