Updated December 2018

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

Lorri Harris
Dept. of Human Services
Adoption Assistance and Guardianship Assistance Program
500 Summer Street NE, E-71
Salem, OR 97311-1068

NACAC Volunteer

Currently, there is no Oregon 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 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:


Oregon state-specific medical assistance information: 

Who is Eligible for Adoption Assistance or Subsidy?

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

To be determined a child with special needs the state must determine that the child meets all three of the following criteria:

  1. The child cannot or should not be returned to the home of his or her parent or parents. This decision is based on one of the following criteria:
    • An order from a court of competent jurisdiction terminating parental rights
    • The existence of a petition for termination of parental rights
    • A voluntary relinquishment of parental rights for a child under the jurisdiction of the court, in the custody of the Department, or in a subsequent adoption when there was an adoption assistance agreement in place during the prior adoption
    • A voluntary relinquishment of parental rights and a judicial determination that remaining in the home of a specified relative would be contrary to the child’s best interest. The request for the judicial determination must be filed within six months of the time the child last lived with the specified relative.
    • For a child who can be adopted in accordance with state or tribal law without a termination of parental rights or voluntary relinquishment of parental rights, the valid reason why the child cannot or should not be returned to the home of his or her parents
    • In the case of an orphan, verification of the death of the parent or parents.
  2. The child has at least one of the following factors or conditions that make adoptive placement difficult to achieve:
    • Eight years old or older
    • Member of a racial or ethnic minority
    • Member of a sibling group of two or more children placed together and one of the children is six years of age or older
    • Member of a sibling group of three or more children placed together
    • Documented medical, physical, mental, emotional condition impairment, or other clinically diagnosed disability
    • Documented history of abuse or neglect
    • Any other identified, predisposing factor that places the child at significant risk for future problems that need for treatment
  3. A reasonable but unsuccessful effort to place the child with an appropriate adoptive family for adoption without adoption assistance has been made, unless such an effort is not in the child’s best interest for reasons including placement with a relative or another person with whom the child has an established significant relationship.
  1. Does the state-only funded adoption assistance program differ in any way from the Title IV-E program?


  1. Are children adopted from private agencies in Oregon eligible for subsidies?

Yes, as long as they meet all of the criteria to be determined special needs as described in question 1 above.

What Supports and Services Are Available?

Monthly Payments

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

The adoption assistance rate cannot exceed the foster care payment a child would be eligible for if placed in foster care. A foster care payment in Oregon can include both a base rate and, for some children, a level of care rate. The base rate is based on a child’s age. The level of care rate is set based on a screening tool that assesses the child enhanced supervision needs, if any. The combined rate is the ceiling for the adoption assistance payment. However, not all services and activities covered in foster care reimbursement are allowable in adoption assistance. Therefore, the amount of adoption assistance can be, and often is, less than foster care. 

The base foster care rates are:









Current level of care rates are :









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

A child with enhanced supervision needs may qualify for a higher rate as described in question 4 above. The maximum possible adoption assistance rate would be the combined foster care base rate and level of care rate the child would qualify for if in foster care.

  1. When do adoption assistance payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoption placement. All three of following criteria must be met:

  • the child is fully free for adoption,
  • the placement has been designated as the adoptive home, and
  • the adoptive parent(s) and the agency representative have signed the adoption assistance agreement.

Payments do not begin until the adoption assistance agreement is complete.

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

The Department may approve an extension of an adoption assistance agreement for an individual who reaches age 18 under the following limited circumstances:

  1. The child has an initial adoption assistance agreement in effect with Oregon and, at the time of the child’s 18th birthday, meets one of the following criteria:
    • Qualifies as an individual with a developmental disability as determined by the Oregon Department of Human Services, Developmental Disabilities Services;
    • If living in a state other than Oregon, qualifies as an individual with a developmental disability as determined by the equivalent developmental disability program in that state; or
    • Qualifies for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as determined by the Social Security Administration.
  2. An initial adoption assistance agreement was entered into on behalf of a child aged 16 or 17 and, upon reaching the age of 18, he or she is:
    • Completing secondary school (or equivalent);
    • Enrolled in post-secondary or vocational school;
    • Participating in a program or activity that promotes or removes barriers to employment;
    • Employed for at least 80 hours a month; or
    • Determined incapable of any of the above due to a documented medical condition, physical disability, or mental disability.

Any extension beyond 18 ends on or before the child’s 21st birthday.

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

Yes. Deferred adoption assistance agreements provide assurance that the family can request a change in benefits if the need or circumstance arises in the future. To receive a deferred agreement, adoptive parents, through the caseworker, must submit an adoption assistance application for what is known as “agreement only,” which must be signed by the adoptive parents and the agency before adoption finalization.

Medical Care

  1. What Medicaid services are available in Oregon?

Visit http://www.oregon.gov/oha/healthplan/Pages/benefits.aspx for information about services provided. For a list of services, contact Judy Calvo at 503-945-6930.

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

Since 1999, Oregon has provided medical cards for all children residing in Oregon who have a valid adoption assistance agreement with Oregon or another state.

Children who have a IV-E adoption assistance agreement with Oregon are categorically eligible for medical assistance in the state of residence.

Oregon will provide a medical card through Oregon’s general fund medical program when a child has a state-funded adoption assistance agreement with Oregon and resides in a state that will not provide medical coverage. However, the family must locate a provider willing to accept the Oregon medical card or return to Oregon for medical services.

  1. What mental health services are available?

Public mental health services for children in Oregon are administered by the Oregon Health Authority, Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Medical Assistance Programs (DMAP), Addictions and Mental Health (AMH) through the Community Mental Health Services Program and the Intensive Mental Health Services Program.

Community Mental Health Programs can include individual, group, and family psychotherapy; crisis intervention; parent training; follow-up of hospitalized youth and case management; consultation to families, school, and other agencies; specialized services to families; prescription medication; and respite.

Intensive treatment services can include children’s treatment services at the Secure Children’s Inpatient Program; Secure Adolescent Inpatient Program; psychiatric day treatment services; psychiatric assessment and evaluation services; sub acute treatment; and psychiatric residential treatment Services (PRTS).

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.

Other Benefits

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

Families can be reimbursed for up to $2,000 per child for reasonable and necessary attorney fees and other costs required to legally finalize an adoption of a child with special needs. Costs can include an adoption home study, health and psychological exams, transportation, and the costs of lodging and food for the child and the adoptive parents when necessary to complete the adoption, and not covered by another source such as interstate compact.

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

Adoption assistance does not cover child care.

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

Adoptive families can receive assistance with accessing respite services through the Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center (ORPARC), which provides information/referral services in addition to training and a lending library of books, videos and audiotapes. For more information or to receive services, parents should contact:

621 SW Morrison Street, Suite 1225
Portland, Oregon 97205
503-241-0799 or 800-764-8367

Provision of services is based on the needs of the child and family and the availability of DHS and community resources.

Many private organizations offer a variety of support services. Search for Oregon resources in the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service at https://archrespite.org/respitelocator.

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

Placement in residential care can only be accomplished by going through the local DHS branch office or the local Mental Health program, which can make referrals for residential treatment. For the state to pay for this service the providing program must be licensed and contracted with the Mental Health Division and be a Medicaid provider. Families placing their children in residential care through any other avenue will be responsible for the cost.

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

Post-adoption services in Oregon provided by ORPARC with funding from the Department of Human Services (DHS), Children, Adults and Families (CAF). Post-adoption services include:

  • information and referral
  • educational programs
  • educational materials
  • support programs
  • therapeutic intervention/counseling
  • advocacy
  • respite care
  • residential treatment
  • mediation/search services

A family who has adopted from foster care or who has a subsidized guardianship can contact ORPARC for support and referral. (See question 14 for ORPARC contact information.)

Oregon also has a voluntary Adoption Registry and all parties to adoption are informed of its availability. To learn more contact Patty Wilhite (503-945-6643, patty.wilhite@state.or.us) or visit http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/CHILDREN/ADOPTION/Pages/registry.aspx.

Parents of children receiving Oregon adoption assistance must contact the local child welfare office intake unit to request services.

To access family support services (such as direct case management assistance to help get a child into residential treatment), a family in Oregon who has adoption assistance from Oregon can seek assistance from a local branch. If the family is out of state, the local branch cannot assist.

Working with a local office provides a case manager from child welfare – goal to prevent placement – facilitate return home of the child. To find a local office visit http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/Offices/Pages/Child-Welfare.aspx.

Not all services may be available in all cases. Parents should contact their adoption assistance worker or post adoption services contact for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

  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?

Post-adoption services are identified in the agreement. The specific name of the service is not always identified (for example, ORPARC is not identified by name since the program name might change).

What Should Families Know About Applying for Subsidy?

  1. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?

The caseworker or adoption worker first discusses adoption assistance with the prospective parents. The family must complete their portion of the application, but can ask for support from their worker.

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

An adoption assistance coordinator reviews the adoption assistance application. The coordinator then negotiates the amount with the assistance of the caseworker or adoption worker. When there is difficulty reaching a negotiated agreement, the coordinator refers the case to a review committee. If the family is dissatisfied with the decision of the committee, the family may request a review by the Adoption Services Unit Program Manager. If the family is dissatisfied with the decision of the Adoption Services Unit Program Manager, they are entitled to a contested case hearing before a hearing officer.

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

Adoptive parents may seek adoption assistance after finalization by submitting a written request to the adoption assistance program. The request should include relevant information and available documentation about the child and the adoption that will help staff in determining eligibility.

Within 30 days of receipt of the written request, staff will determine whether the child meets the Title IV-E eligibility requirements. Using the information submitted by the adoptive parents plus information available from existing records, the staff will assess whether the case meets the “extenuating circumstances” criteria for federal post-adoption assistance eligibility as well as basic program eligibility. For eligible cases, a fair hearing is scheduled per federal requirements.

For non-IV-E cases, the Adoptions Manager reviews the case and makes the decision.

Families should contact one of the five Adoption Assistance Coordinators to start the process based on the first letter of the family’s last name on this web page:


How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?

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

Adoptive families may request a change in the adoption assistance agreement when there is a change in the family’s circumstances or the child’s needs. Families may request renegotiation any time by contacting their Adoption Assistance Coordinator. The coordinator will send paperwork that the family must complete to formally request the renegotiation and to provide information regarding the change in needs or circumstances. The request for renegotiation of the agreement must also specify the services or goods sought to meet the new need and estimate their cost. The adoptive family may also be asked to provide documentation that supports their request.

Disputes over renegotiation of the adoption assistance agreement are resolved through the Appeal Procedures of Adoption Assistance (see Question 22). Parents can send a request for a change in the adoption assistance agreement to their coordinator at the following address:

Department of Human Services 
Adoption Assistance 
500 Summer Street, NE
Salem, OR 97301

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

Adoptive parents can request a fair hearing whenever they disagree with a DHS decision that affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. First, a resolution is sought with the adoption assistance coordinator. If the family and the adoption assistance coordinator cannot reach agreement, the family or coordinator may verbally request a review of the case by the Adoption Assistance Review Committee.

If the family is not satisfied with the recommendation of the Review Committee, they may request, in writing, that the Adoption Program Manager review the case file and make a decision.

If the family remains unsatisfied, they may appeal, in writing, this decision to a fair hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). There is no particular form that adoptive parents must use to request a hearing. Requests must be made within 30 days of the receipt of an adverse decision to the following address:

Department of Human Services
Adoption Program Manager
500 Summer Street, NE 
Salem, OR 97301

At the hearing, DHS is represented legally by the Oregon State Attorney General’s Office. Adoptive families have the right to be represented by legal counsel and to bring witnesses to support their case before the ALJ.

For more information on the fair hearing process visit one of the following sites: http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/oars_400/oar_413/413_tofc.html#130 or http://www.dhs.state.or.us/policy/childwelfare/cross_index.htm#section_f

What Else do Families Need to Know?

  1. How is the subsidy program operated and funded in Oregon?

The program is centrally administered and budgeted from the state office in Salem. Each branch office and private agency has subsidy application forms and submits completed forms to the central office. All annual reviews, agreements, nonrecurring expenses, and training for public and private agency staff are handled in the central office by the adoption assistance staff.

In Oregon, the federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 63.14% (known as the Federal Financial Participation or FFP rate). The remaining cost of the program is paid with state general funds.

  1. Does Oregon operate a subsidized guardianship program?

Yes. This is offered as a result of Fostering Connections to relatives of children in DHS custody, Oregon’s definition of relative is very inclusive. For more information, contact Kathryn Prouty or Carla Crane (see adoption assistance contacts at the top) or download policy information at http://www.dhs.state.or.us/policy/childwelfare/manual_1/i-e362.pdf

  1. Does Oregon offer a tuition waiver program?


  1. Does Oregon offer a state adoption tax credit?

Not currently. (Oregon had a tax credit that expired in 2005.)

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

Oregon does not have a specific program to provide this support.

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

The Independent Living Program provides some limited benefits for children who were adopted from foster care as teens. For more information, visit http://www.oregon.gov/dhs/children/fostercare/pages/ind_living/ilp.aspx.

The Department of Human Services partners with Portland State University to offer a Post-Graduate Training Certificate in Therapy with Adoptive Families. This is specialized training for mental health therapists with focus on adopted children and their families. For more information, e-mail kellieh@pdx.edu.

Oregon Legal Sources:

Oregon’s adoption assistance policy: 

Oregon Adoption Assistance Handbook: http://dhsforms.hr.state.or.us/Forms/Served/DE9050.pdf

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