Updated April 2020
Below you will find information about the adoption assistance benefits that may be available to families who adopt children from foster care in Oklahoma. Adoption subsidy policies and practices are, for the most part, dependent on the state where the child was in foster care before the adoption.
Department of Human Services (DHS)
P.O. Box 25352
Oklahoma City, OK 73125
Currently, there is no Oklahoma 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adoption resources on the web:
Oklahoma state-specific medical assistance information:
Oklahoma adoption assistance information:
Who Is Eligible for Adoption Assistance?
- How does Oklahoma define special needs to determine eligibility?
A child must have special needs determined to be eligible for:
- federally funded adoption assistance, per OAC 340:75-15-128.2;
- state funded adoption assistance, per OAC 340:75-15-128.3; or
- reimbursement of non-recurring adoption expenses, per OAC 340:75-15-128.1. A child is determined to have special needs by meeting all criteria in subparagraphs (A) through (C) of this paragraph.
- The child cannot return home. Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) recommends that the child not return to the home of his or her parent. The recommendation that a child not be returned home is documented with:
- a Petition for Termination of Parental Rights;
- an Order of Termination of Parental Rights from a court of competent jurisdiction;
- a signed Relinquishment of Parental Rights, when the child is under the jurisdiction of the court;
- other official documentation when a child can be adopted in accordance with state or tribal law without a termination of parental rights or relinquishment of parental rights; or
- verification of the parent’s death, when the child is orphaned.
- Special factors or conditions exist. When OKDHS determines that one or more factors or conditions listed in units (i) through (vii) of this subparagraph exists, and child may not be placed with the adoptive parent without adoption assistance.
- Physical disability. The child has a physical disability that requires regular treatment with a specific diagnosis by the child’s physician.
- Mental disability. The child meets the eligibility criteria for educable multi-handicapped (EMH) or trainable multi-handicapped (TMH) classes and has been evaluated by a licensed psychologist, psychometrist, or recognized diagnostic center. A child with a demonstrable need for intensive adult supervision beyond ordinary age needs also qualifies.
- Age and type of placement. Eligibility based on the child’s age and type of placement is determined according to subunit (I) and (II) of this unit.
- Kinship placement. There is no age requirement when the child is placed with a relative that meets the specified degree of relationship as defined in OAC 340:10-9-1.
- Non-related. When no other special needs are determined, the child must be eight years of age or older.
- Sibling relationship. The child is part of a sibling group as specified in subunits (I) and (II) of this unit:
- A child of any age and at least one sibling are placed in trial adoption status in the same home.
- A child younger than three years of age, not determined eligible to receive an adoption assistance payment at the time of the adoption assistance application, becomes eligible when there is a sibling relationship.
- If the adoptive parent, within one year of the child’s adoption finalization, finalizes the adoption of the child’s sibling, the subsequent child is, and the child originally adopted, if not eligible at the time of adoption would then be, eligible for an adoption assistance payment.
- The effective date the adoption assistance payment begins for the child is also the effective date the adoption assistance would begin for the sibling.
- Emotional disturbance. A child meets this criteria when the emotional disturbance is:
- established by a physician, psychologist, behavioral therapist, or social worker;
- corroborated by the Child Welfare specialist’s observations of the child’s behavior;
- corroborated by one or more caregivers, such as a foster parent, Head Start or school personnel, or child care provider; and
- documented with a specific diagnosis and prognosis, when applicable.
- Racial or ethnic factor. The child is American Indian or Alaskan Native, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, Black or African American and three years of age or older.
- High risk potential for physical or mental disease. The child who has a high risk potential for physical or mental disease for conditions that are not currently being treated may qualify. When no other special factors or conditions exist, a monthly payment is not approved until there are documented symptoms of physical or mental disease. Indicators of high risk potential for physical or mental disease are:
- social and medical history such as mental illness of a biological parent or family member;
- events or life experiences such as severe sexual abuse; and
- prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol.
- Unsuccessful efforts to place the child without assistance. A reasonable, but unsuccessful effort was made to place the child without adoption assistance, except where it would not be in the child’s best interests due to factors such as a strong emotional tie to a foster parent who plans to adopt the child or placement with a relative.
- Documentation of efforts to place the child without adoption assistance is required and includes specific recruitment efforts for an adoptive parent who can meet the child’s special needs. Examples of specific recruitment efforts include:
- . area staffings;
- Documentation of efforts to place the child without adoption assistance is required and includes specific recruitment efforts for an adoptive parent who can meet the child’s special needs. Examples of specific recruitment efforts include:
- adoption parties;
- adoption resource exchanges; and
- media and Internet efforts.
- Form 04AN001E, Adoption Assistance Application must include a statement of the reasons the child may not be placed in an adoptive home without adoption assistance, including:
- . the specific factors that make it difficult to place the child;
- a description of efforts to place the child without assistance; and
- the reasons it is not in the child’s best interests to attempt to place the child for adoption without assistance.
- 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 meet the definition of special needs above, be under the age of 18, and have previously been in the court ordered custody of Oklahoma DHS or a federally recognized Indian tribe as defined by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act and the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Act.
- Are children adopted from private agencies in Oklahoma eligible for adoption assistance?
Children placed by private agencies must meet Title IV-E criteria. State funded adoption assistance is not available. Private agencies involved must demonstrate that they made an effort to place the child without adoption assistance.
What Supports and Services Are Available?
- What is the maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Oklahoma?
Up to the maximum rate based on age.
- Does Oklahoma provide specialized rates (based on the extraordinary needs of the child or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child)?
Yes, children may receive the following monthly addition to the basic payment, based on the five levels described below.
DOC Rate I — The child has one or more of the following needs, conditions, or behaviors:
- requires ongoing scheduled medical or psychological appointments that routinely occur more than twice weekly
- displays emotional difficulties that result in destruction of property
- requires medical or educational supplies on a routine basis that are not compensable through Medicaid
- requires daily physical therapy performed by the adoptive parent(s)
DOC Rate II— The child has one or more of the needs, conditions, or behaviors listed in DOC Rate I, and has at least one of the following needs:
- requires 24-hour awake intensive supervision due to severe medical or emotional needs
- requires special food preparation and feeding due to a condition that restricts normal eating
- requires special equipment for transportation that results in restricted mobility for the child and the adoptive parent(s)
- displays incontinence of the bladder and bowel that is not age appropriate
- displays multiple disabilities, birth defects, or brain damage that prevents normal intellectual or physical functioning
- requires strict monitoring of medication
- requires assistance in movement that is very difficult due to the child’s size
- requires post-hospitalization care such as frequent changing of bandages, tubes, and special hygiene techniques
- displays emotional disturbances, developmental delay, or intellectual disability that result in behavior such as constant difficulties in school, aggressive and delinquent activities, destructiveness, resistance to authority, and sexual disturbances
DOC Rate III — The child has one or more of the needs, conditions, or behaviors listed in each of DOC Rates I and II, and also requires specialized substitute care.
DOC Rate IV — The child has one or more of the needs, conditions, or behaviors described in each of DOC Rates I, II, and III and requires such specialized care that normally the child would be in institutional or inpatient psychiatric care. Examples include:
- requires special equipment, such as apnea monitor, suction machine, gastronomy tube, oxygen, tracheotomy tube, or shunt
- requires special feeding or nursing care around the clock
- requires frequent nighttime supervision and care that is not age appropriate
- displays such frequent seizures or other abnormal physical reactions that 24-hour monitoring is required
- displays bizarre, socially unacceptable behavior, violent tendencies, potentially harmful behavior to self or others, or sexually predatory behavior to others or animals
- required previous inpatient mental health treatment or has recently been discharged from an inpatient facility
- requires such intensive care that the adoptive parent(s) is severel restricted in normal daily activities and is frequently homebound
- requires frequent 24-hour awake supervision
- requires post-hospitalization care for severe burns
DOC Rate V — A child approved for DOC Level V has one or more of the needs, conditions, or behaviors described in DOC Levels I, II, III, and IV and has a significant number of intense needs. The child’s level of need is likely to become more severe over time and is likely at some time to require personal attendant care or specialized care outside of the home, when prescribed by a professional. A current medical or psychological report within the last six months is required from a qualified physician. This report must include a diagnosis, prognosis, and recommended treatment. Conditions considered in the determination of DOC Level V include a child who has:
- severe mental illness, such as child schizophrenia, severe developmental disabilities, brain damage, or autism, diagnosed by a physician
- severe physical disabilities or mental conditions that are not expected to improve over time and adversely impact life expectancy when compared with others who have similar physical disabilities or mental conditions
- severely inhibiting diagnosed mental health conditions, defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM), diagnosed within the past year, that severely limit normal social and emotional development and require ongoing outpatient behavioral health services
- severe mental retardation as determined by the Social Security Administration and defined by DSM;
- been waiting for an organ transplant or is up to one year post transplant
- a physical condition uncontrolled by medication or treatment such as Tourette’s syndrome or epilepsy
- When do adoption assistance payments begin?
If Oklahoma foster parents who are receiving foster care maintenance payments for a child adopt that child, agreements are set up to begin the day after finalization. The foster care payments continue until finalization. In all other situations, families may request payment begin at placement.
- When a child turns 18, which benefits, if any, continue?
Adoption assistance ends at age 18 unless:
- the child continues to attend high school or a GED program full time or
- the child meets the criteria for an adoption assistance DOC rate as determined by DHS
- Does Oklahoma offer deferred adoption assistance agreements (agreements where initial monthly maintenance amount is $0 for children at risk of developing special needs later)?
Yes, Oklahoma offers deferred adoption assistance. The application process is the same for deferred adoption assistance as for adoption assistance except that the family indicates on the application that they are requesting an “Agreement Only” agreement. They receive no benefits now but can receive benefits in the future if needed.
- What Medicaid services are available in Oklahoma?
SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) covers many health care services. However, there are limitations that apply to ensure that only medically necessary services are provided. Some services are for children only. The benefits and coverage outlined below may change. Please contact the SoonerCare helpline at 1-800-987-7767 for more information about covered services.
Possible covered services
- Ambulatory Surgery Center services
- Behavioral health and substance abuse services (outpatient)
- Case management services
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Clinic services including renal dialysis services
- Dental services (limited for adults)
- Durable medical equipment and supplies
- Family planning services and supplies
- Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) services
- Home health services
- Inpatient hospital services
- Intermediate Care Facilities for the mentally retarded (ICF-MR) *
- Laboratory and X-ray services
- Medical supplies and equipment, including diabetic supplies
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
- Nurse midwife services
- Nursing facility services *
- Outpatient hospital services
- Pregnancy services (breastfeeding, etc.)
- Personal care services
- Physician services, including preventive services
- Podiatry services
- Prescription drugs and insulin
- Prenatal, delivery and postpartum services (maternity services)
- Quitting Smoking & Tobacco
- Rural health clinic services
- Transplants that are prior authorized
- Transportation to obtain covered medical care (SoonerRide)
- Tuberculosis services
- Ultrasound benefits
* Not covered under SoonerCare CHOICE
Additional services for children
- Child Health screenings
- Hearing aids
- Inpatient hospital services for patients in institutions for mental disease
- Optometric or optical services, including eyeglasses
- Other medically necessary services
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Private duty nursing
- Speech, hearing and language disorder services
Medicare Cost Sharing and Third Party Liability
If an eligible person has other medical insurance, that insurance company must be billed before SoonerCare is billed.
Oklahoma also offers what is known as Special Service Subsidies. Funding is available for services not met by the family’s private insurance or Medicaid. Adoptive parents must first seek and exhaust all resources, both pubic and private, before Special Service Subsidies are available.
- 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.)
Medical benefits are the same for an adoptive child regardless of the funding source.
When a child is in an adoptive home before adoption and has unusual medical needs that cannot be met by the family and the child is not included in the family’s medical insurance coverage, DHS can be a resource for payment of medical expenses.
- What mental health services are available?
Mental health treatment benefits for those enrolled in Oklahoma Medicaid (SoonerCare) include inpatient acute care, crisis stabilization and emergency care. Children may receive residential treatment services. Additionally, psychiatric outpatient services (including pharmacological management) and a variety of outpatient counseling and rehabilitative services are included benefits for children.
- Case Management
- Inpatient, Acute and Freestanding
- Outpatient Behavioral Health Centers and PACT Services
- Residential Programs
Developmental Disabilities Services, http://www.okdhs.org/services/dd/Pages/default.aspx
Serve persons ages 3 and up who have a primary diagnosis of intellectual disability. Persons served may also have other developmental and/or intellectual disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and more.
A developmental disability is a term that includes disabilities which occur in the developmental years (before the age of 22). It may be caused by a physical or mental impairment or a combination of both. Developmental disabilities cannot be cured – they are life-long and chronic.
Applications are available through the area DDSD office. Area offices are listed on the DHS website http://www.okdhs.org/services/dd/Pages/areacontactinfo.aspx. If you do have internet access, you may contact DHS information and referral at (405)521-3646 for the location of the DDSD office in your area.
- In Oklahoma, what nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption may be reimbursed?
Certain non-recurring expenses incurred by or on behalf of the adoptive parent(s) in connection with the adoption of a child with special needs may be reimbursed.
- Reimbursable non-recurring adoption expenses:
- are the reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses that are directly related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs;
- are not incurred in violation of state or federal law; and
- have not been reimbursed from other sources or funds.
- Financial reimbursement is available to the adoptive parent(s) of an eligible child for:
- adoption fees;
- court costs;
- attorney fees;
- adoptive home study fee;
- costs incurred for family members to obtain health and psychological reports;
- supervision of the adoptive placement by another agency;
- transportation, food, and lodging for the adoptive parent(s) and child during the placement process; and
- cost of fingerprinting paid by the adoptive parent(s).
International adoption. A child who has special needs but who is not a citizen or resident of the United States and was either adopted in another country or brought to the United States for the purpose of adoption is categorically ineligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance except if the child meets the eligibility criteria after the dissolution of the international adoption.
When siblings are placed together with the same adoptive family, separate reimbursement for non-recurring expenses is considered for each child. Reimbursement of non-recurring adoption expenses may be approved on behalf of each eligible child:
- When the adoption is finalized, non-recurring adoption expense reimbursement assistance does not exceed the documented actual expenses incurred up to a maximum of $1,200 per child.
- When the adoption is finalized and an Order Terminating Parental Rights or Order Determining the Child Eligible for Adoption Without the Consent of a Biological Parent was obtained in the adoption case, a request for reimbursement up to a maximum of $2,000 per child is considered by OKDHS on a case-by-case basis. In cases where siblings are placed together with the same adoptive family, each child is considered individually with separate reimbursement for non-recurring expenses.
- When the trial adoption disrupts prior to finalization, the potential adoptive parent(s) may be eligible for up to a maximum reimbursement of $500 per child.
Prior to finalization of the adoption, the request for reimbursement of non-recurring adoption expenses must be approved by Post Adoption Services Section and the Adoption Assistance Agreement signed by the adoptive parent(s) and DHS designee. Payment is made directly to the adoptive parent(s) for approved amounts shown on the itemized statement as paid in full. Payment is made directly to a vendor, such as an attorney and private adoption agency, when the itemized statement indicates the fee has not been paid in full by the adoptive parent(s).
- Is child care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access child care?
Child care services may paid by DHS, if the child was in foster care at the time of approval for adoption assistance, as a part of the Special Service Subsidies if all of the following are true:
- The child is five years of age or younger.
- The child is adopted through OKDHS or a federally recognized Indian tribe.
- The child has been adopted by the parent applying for benefits.
- The adoptive parent applying for benefits has fully executed Form Adoption Assistance Agreement, that lists child care as an adoption assistance benefit for the child and includes the Post-Adoption Child Care Referral, when the child resides in Oklahoma.
- The parent’s employment has been verified and child care has been approved for only the days and hours the adoptive parent works. In a two-parent family, care may be approved for sleep time when one parent works days and the other parent works during normal night time sleep hours.
The Special Service Subsidy for child care is negotiated between OKDHS and the adoptive parent(s), but cannot exceed the one-star child care center rate. The benefit must be approved by the Post-Adoption Services Section and included on the Adoption Assistance Agreement. The child care will be paid from CFSD funds when the child resides outside of Oklahoma.
- Is respite care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access respite care?
Respite vouchers are available to adoptive parents to be used to prevent adoption dissolution or who have special health care needs and was once in custody of DHS. Vouchers are awarded based on availability of funds. Contact Martha Hopcus at (405)521-3832 for additional information or visit, http://www.okdhs.org/services/postadopt/Pages/postadpt.aspx.
- Is residential treatment available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access residential treatment services?
Inpatient behavioral health services are covered for the children in general acute care hospitals. Services are also covered for children in freestanding psychiatric facilities. All inpatient behavioral health services for patients under 21 years of age must be pre-authorized by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. All inpatient acute and residential psychiatric services will be pre-authorized for an approved length of stay. Non-authorized inpatient psychiatric services will not be Medicaid compensable. For questions related to pre-authorization or benefits available call (800) 522-0114 or visit website: http://www.okhca.org.
- What other post-adoption services are available in Oklahoma and how do families find out more about them?
Post adoption services are an essential component of the adoption program. DHS provides post adoption services designed to assist the adoptive family in maintaining the child in the home and to support the adult adoptee and birth family members to deal with the lifelong impact of adoption. The following post adoption services are available:
- Comprehensive Home-Based Services. DHS provides comprehensive services for adoptive families through Oklahoma Children’s Services.
- Medicaid services. Children who are approved for adoption assistance are eligible for services within the scope of the Medicaid program. In these cases, the adoptive family is responsible for any medical services provided to the child which are not within the scope of the Medicaid program.
- Respite vouchers. Eligible individuals may request respite vouchers to be used to prevent adoption dissolution.
- Disclosure of information after finalization.
- Adoptee and birth family. DHS provides, upon request, a copy of Form ODH 347, Medical and Social History Report for Adoption, and any additional medical and social history information in its possession to:
- the adoptive parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the minor adopted child;
- an adult adoptee age 18 or older;
- an adult whose biological parents’ parental rights were terminated and who was never adopted.
- Direct descendant. DHS provides medical information only upon request to:
- an adult direct descendant of a deceased adopted person or of a deceased person whose biological mother’s and biological father’s parental rights were terminated and who was never adopted; and
- the parent or guardian of a minor direct descendant of a deceased adopted person or of a deceased person whose biological mother’s and biological father’s rights were terminated and who was never adopted.
- Genetic information. DHS provides, upon request, a copy of significant supplemental genetic information about an adopted person, or about a person whose parental rights were terminated, which became available after the issuance of the final decree of adoption or the termination order to:
- a biological parent or biological relative of an adopted person; and
- a biological parent or biological relative of a person whose biological mother’s and biological father’s rights were terminated and who was never adopted.
- Post finalization. If any additional information about an adopted child, the adopted child’s biological parents, or the adopted child’s genetic history is submitted to DHS after the adoption is finalized, this information is retained in the adoption record for as long as those records are maintained. A copy of this supplemental information is filed with the clerk of the court that issued the decree of adoption, to be made a part of the court’s permanent record of that adoption.
- Tribal information. DHS may not provide identifying information directly to an adult adoptee to establish tribal rights or membership, but will provide identifying information to the tribe, the court, or Secretary of the Interior for purposes of establishing Native American heritage.
- Inheritance. Termination of parental rights does not terminate the child’s right to inherit from the biological parent(s). DHS assists with locating heirs and will act as an intermediary, upon request.
- Mutual Consent Voluntary Registry. This registry allows adult adoptees and persons separated from birth family members through termination of parental rights proceedings to receive assistance in locating birth family members.
- Confidential Intermediary Search Program. Eligible persons may request the services of a Confidential Intermediary to search for members of their birth family.
- Lending Library. Books related to adoption are available from the lending library. Examples of topics include, adoptee and adoptive parent experiences, fetal alcohol syndrome, attachment disorders, etc..
Not all services may be available in all cases. Parents should contact their Post Adoption services worker for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.
- 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?
The following assistance must be explicitly requested in the adoption application: medical, non-recurring adoption expenses, monthly payment, special services, and employment-related child care.
What Should Families Know about Applying for Adoption assistance?
- Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?
Post Adoption Services staff initiates an adoption assistance agreement after the Adoption Assistance Application is processed, reviewed, and a determination is made regarding eligibility.
- Who makes the final determination on an adoption assistance agreement?
The Adoption worker helps the family apply for adoption assistance. The worker negotiates with the adoptive family what services are needed to best meet the needs of the child. The Post Adoption staff reviews the application and makes a determination regarding eligibility and approves services. When the parties cannot come to an agreement, DHS establishes the payment amount.
- How do families request adoption assistance after finalization of an adoption?
Adoptive parents can contact Post Adoption Services at (405) 522-4487 for an adoption application packet.
For children who are state-funded, the only exception to the requirement that the Adoption Assistance Agreement form, must be signed by the adoptive parent(s) and DHS before finalization of the adoption is when the child is determined to have a causative pre-existing condition that was not identified or known prior to the finalization of the adoption which has resulted in a severe medical or psychiatric condition that requires extensive treatment, hospitalization, or institutionalization. The child must also meet the definition of a child with special needs per OAC 340:75-15-128.4.
- The application procedure is the same as for Title IV-E applications made after finalization as set forth in OAC 340:75-15-128.5(f)(4). There is no requirement that the adoptive parent(s) prevail at a fair hearing.
- The benefits are the same as for state funded adoption assistance approved prior to finalization of the adoption.
- If eligible for a monthly adoption assistance payment, the child may also be entitled to receive retroactive payments for the two months prior to the date the adoption assistance was approved, if requested and documentation is produced that shows the child was receiving treatment or assessment during those two months.
Title IV-E federally-funded adoption assistance application after adoption finalization. Section 1356.40(b)(1) of Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires the Adoption Assistance Agreement form is signed and effective at the time of, or prior to, the final decree of adoption.
- Fair hearing when post-adoption assistance benefits are denied. When the adoptive parent(s), who applied for Title IV-E adoption assistance after adoption finalization, believes benefits on behalf of the adopted child were wrongly denied, the adoptive parent(s) may request a fair hearing. When the adoptive parent(s) prevails in a fair hearing, DHS:
- determines whether the child met all eligibility requirements at the time of the placement in the adoptive home and at finalization of the adoption; and
- may reverse the earlier decision to deny benefits.
- Eligibility for post-adoption assistance benefits. A child may be eligible for Title IV-E post adoption assistance only when:
- the adoptive parent(s) prevails in a fair hearing and proved extenuating circumstance exists, such as:
- relevant facts regarding the child, the biological family, or the child’s background were known, but not presented to the adoptive parent(s) prior to the finalization of the adoption;
- denial of assistance was based upon a means test of the adoptive parent(s);
- an erroneous determination by DHS that the child was ineligible for adoption assistance; or
- DHS was required and failed to advise the adoptive parent(s) of the availability of the Title IV-E adoption assistance program; and
How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?
- Can adoptive parents ask to change an adoption assistance agreement?
An agreement may be modified and the adoption assistance payment amount readjusted periodically when warranted by a change in circumstances and with the adoptive parent(s)’ agreement. A change in the child’s eligibility for the DOC rate paid constitutes a change in circumstance.
- The adoption assistance payment amount may not be automatically adjusted without the adoptive parent(s)’ agreement except for an across-the-board reduction or increase in DHS foster care reimbursement rates or DOC rates.
- Modification of the Adoption Assistance Agreement is prospective only and is not retroactive.
- When the parties cannot come to an agreement, DHS establishes the payment amount.
- The adoptive parent(s) must inform DHS of circumstances that make the child ineligible for adoption assistance payments or eligible for payments of a different amount. DHS may require:
- the adoptive parent(s) to provide updated documentation of the child’s ongoing eligibility for the payment amount received; and
- evaluation of the child by a suitably licensed or certified examiner selected by DHS when the child’s eligibility is in question.
- What steps does a family go through to appeal an adoption assistance decision in Oklahoma?
The application for adoption assistance may be denied if the child does not meet eligibility criteria. The Notice of Intent to Deny Adoption Assistance form is sent to the adoptive parent(s) by certified mail.
Additional review. Following issuance of the Notice of Intent to Deny Adoption Assistance, the adoptive parent(s) is given 30 days from the date on the form to provide additional proof of eligibility by filing Part B of the Request for Review of Denial form, and attaching additional information or documentation that might affect the approval of the original application. If the adoptive parent(s) provides additional information, the application is reviewed by the Adoption Assistance Review Committee, and a final determination is delayed, pending the review. If the Adoption Assistance Review Committee denies the application a Final Notice of Denial of Adoption Assistance is sent to the adoptive parent(s) by certified mail.
Request for fair hearing.
- There is an opportunity for an administrative fair hearing, per OAC 340:2-5-91, for any adoptive parent(s) whose:
- application for adoption assistance has been:
- denied or not acted upon with reasonable promptness; or
- approved in an amount less than requested; or
- The Adoption Assistance Agreement, has been:
- modified without the concurrence of the adoptive parent(s); or
- terminated by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
- The adoptive parent(s) may request a fair hearing:
- upon receipt of Notice of Intent to Deny Adoption Assistance form if the adoptive parent(s) does not have additional information or documentation to submit for further consideration by the Adoption Assistance Review Committee, but believes the child is eligible for adoption assistance benefits; or
- if the adoptive parent(s) has requested a review of denial and received the Final Notice of Denial of Adoption Assistance form from DHS and still believes the child is eligible for adoption assistance benefits.
- The request for a fair hearing is submitted in writing to DHS using the Resource Family Request for a Fair Hearing, within 30 days of the date of:
- Notice of Intent to Deny Adoption Assistance; or
- Final Notice of Denial of Adoption Assistance, if a review of denial process is requested.
What Else Do Families Need to Know?
- How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in Oklahoma?
The Adoption Assistance program is supervised and administered by DHS. Policy and eligibility decisions are made by DHS state office staff. The program is funded by state and federal funds (62.30%).
- Does Oklahoma operate a subsidized guardianship program?
Yes. Permanent guardianship may be established pursuant to the Oklahoma Children’s Code. The court may establish a permanent guardianship between a child and a relative or other adult per Sections 1-4-709 and 1-4-710 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes when the guardianship is in the child’s best interests and when all conditions listed in 10A O.S. § 1-4-709 are substantially satisfied. A guardianship may be funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Supported Permanency Program, Title IV-E Subsidized Guardianship Program, or state, per www.okdhs.org (search for 340:75-6-31.4).
- Does Oklahoma offer a tuition waiver program?
College tuition waivers are available for children placed for adoption by DHS or Oklahoma tribal custody if the children were in foster care for nine months between the ages of 16 and 18. Eligible schools include any Oklahoma public college or university and any public vocational program that has courses that can transfer to the colleges and universities. Waivers are valid until the youth reaches age 26 or completes his or her degree, whichever comes first.
In addition, the state offers the Oklahoma Higher Education Access Program (OHLAP). If students are enrolled in OHLAP during 8th, 9th or 10th grade, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and meet behavioral requirements (such as being drug free and violence free at school), their tuition expenses are covered at any public Oklahoma state college or university. OHLAP has a family income component, but this is waived for foster youth. Once the youth is enrolled in the program, they are eligible even if they are adopted and the adoptive family has a higher income.
For more information on the college tuition waivers or the OHLAP, parents can contact Oklahoma Independent Living Program at (405) 521-3778 and the website www.okil.ou.edu.
- Does Oklahoma offer a state adoption tax credit?
An Oklahoma resident may deduct from his or her income nonrecurring adoption expenses not to exceed $20,000 per calendar year. The expenses must be deducted in the year they were incurred. Nonrecurring adoption expenses means adoption fees, court costs, medical expenses, attorney fees, and expenses directly related to the legal process of adoption of a child.
- Does Oklahoma have any program to support an adoptee whose adoptive parents die until the child is adopted again?
No. However, a child who was Title IV-E eligible, met the criteria for special needs, and was receiving adoption assistance at the time of the death of all of the child’s adoptive parents or at the time the adoption dissolved may be eligible for federally-funded adoption assistance if the child is adopted again after October 1, 1997. A child receiving state-funded adoption assistance may be eligible for adoption assistance if adopted again after May 29, 1998. To be eligible for adoption assistance the child must at the time of re-application meet the special needs criteria, and all requirements of the following:
- The prospective adoptive parent(s) makes application by completing the Adoption Assistance Application.
- The prospective adoptive parent(s) provides from a district or tribal court a copy of a file-stamped:
- Petition for Adoption when requesting pre-finalization adoption assistance; or
- Final Decree of Adoption when requesting adoption assistance to begin after adoption finalization.
- DHS documents the child was receiving Title IV-E or state funded assistance at the time of the death of the adoptive parent(s) or at the time the adoption dissolved.
- DHS receives documentation that the new adoptive parent(s) is not the biological parent(s).
- 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?
The payment day is the 15th of the month and not considered late until the 25th; although there may be some months the payments may be issued earlier than the 15th.
Every family has an assigned Post Adoption Services worker, these are the staff who you should contact if your payment is late. See this web page for the assigned worker and their supervisor, http://www.okdhs.org/services/postadopt/Pages/Post-Adoption-Key-Personnel.aspx
Families can receive their assistance by way of direct deposit. They will set that up during the time of the adoption process – if they want it after the adoption has finalized and the parent decide on direct deposit they can call Conduent (XEROX) to assist them with setting up direct deposit. The number to Conduent (XEROX) is 888-401-9843.
The best thing for the parent to do is call their specific worker first; if they need to get another card issued to them, they can call the above number to Conduent (XEROX) and request to have another card issued to them.
- What else differentiates Oklahoma’s adoption assistance program from others around the country?
DHS recognizes the need adoptive families have for support groups, respite care, easy access to medical and mental health care, therapists who are trained specifically to work with adoptive families, training and retreats. Home base services are available to adoptive parents throughout the adoption process and after finalization. DHS is working to assist adoptive families with these Post Adoption Support Services.
Oklahoma Legal Sources:
Oklahoma Statute §10-7510-1.2 through §10-7510.1.6:
http://oklegal.onenet.net/oklegal-cgi/get_statute?99/Title.10/10-7510-1.2.html (scroll through using next)
Office of Administrative Rules Section 340:75-15-128 through 340:75-15-128.7:
(View Code, click Title 340, click Chapter 75, click Subchapter 15, click Part 14)