Updated September 2020

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

Veronica Davis
101 Friendship Street, 4th fl
Bristol, RI 02903

NACAC Volunteer

Bernie Hicks 
Providence RI

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 Rhode Island: 

Rhode Island’s medical assistance: 

Rhode Island’s adoption assistance: 
https://dcyf.ri.gov/about-us/dcyf-policies-operating-procedures (See “Adoption Subsidy”)

Who Is Eligible for Adoption Assistance or Subsidy?

  1. How does Rhode Island define special needs to determine eligibility?

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

  1. Nine years of age or older
  2. Member of an ethnic or racial minority
  3. Member of a sibling group of two or more children being adopted together
  4. Documented medical condition or a physical, emotional, or mental disability
  5. At high risk of developing a medical condition or a physical, emotional, or mental disability, based upon family background or history
  6. Prior adoption disruption or dissolution

Children must be legally free for adoption to be eligible for adoption assistance.

  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 Rhode Island eligible for subsidies?

Rarely, with decisions made on a case-by-case basis. The child would need to meet the eligibility criteria of the adoption assistance program.

What Supports and Services Are Available?

Monthly Payments

  1. What is the maximum basic weekly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Rhode Island?

The rates below represent the minimum amount per child. Specific rates are negotiated on a case-by-case basis based on the child’sneeds and the family’s circumstances.









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

Specialized rates may be provided on a case-by-base basis.

The state’s Foster Care Payment Assessment (FCPA) system helps calculate rates to be paid to foster parents, based on each individual child’s needs. The FCPA is also used to determine the maximum amount of adoption assistance that the child would be eligible for.

  1. When do adoption assistance payments begin?

Adoption assistance benefits may begin at adoption finalization.

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

Adoption assistance payments typically end when a child reaches 18. Benefits may continue to age 21 if the child has a severe physical or mental disability.

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

Yes. A child at high risk of developing a medical condition or a physical, emotional, or mental disability, based upon family background or history, may be eligible for deferred adoption assistance, which includes medical assistance but no financial assistance. If a disability that is based upon family background or history is later diagnosed, the child may then be eligible to receive financial assistance. For a child to be eligible to receive deferred adoption assistance, an adoption assistance agreement must be created, signed, and approved before adoption finalization. The adoption assistance agreement must include the specific background factor(s) or family history that might place the child at risk for future problems.

Medical Care

  1. What Medicaid services are available in Rhode Island?

Information is available from:

Lisa McInnis
Medical and Benefits
101 Friendship Street
Providence, RI 02903

  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.)

Medical benefits are available for state-funded children. Parents can contact their state adoption assistance contact for more information.

  1. What mental health services are available?

Public mental health services for children in Rhode Island are administered by the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), Division of Children’s Behavioral Health and Education and may include diagnostic assessment services, day treatment, residential counseling centers, residential treatment, psychiatric hospitalization, educational services, and prescription medication.

Adopted children who had been in DCYF custody due to abuse, neglect, and dependency, as well as children who remain in the custody of their parents or legal guardians, are eligible for these mental health services. Most of these services are delivered in community-based settings, and are accessed primarily through the eight Community Mental Health Centers. To learn more, visit http://www.health.ri.gov/healthcare/providers/communityhealthcenters/.

The Rhode Island Department of Human Services, Services for Children and Families administers the Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid), which also provides some mental health services. For information, visit https://dhs.ri.gov/programs-and-services/medicaid-medicare-programs.

Other Benefits

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

Parents may be reimbursed, up to $400 per child, for expenses directly related to the adoption of a special needs child. Such expenses can include adoption fees; court and attorney fees; costs of the adoption home study (including necessary health and psychological examinations); costs of supervision of an adoptive placement before finalization; and the reasonable costs of lodging and food for the child and the adoptive parents when necessary to complete the adoption process. Applications must be submitted and processed before adoption finalization.

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

Eligibility for child care services is based upon the need for care. In the event an adoptive parent needs child care services through DCYF, the adoptive parent may call the Permanency Services Unit to request child care services for a child up to age six as part of the adoption assistance agreement. The adoptive parent must provide proof of employment; child care is awarded based on the number of hours worked. For more information, visit https://dhs.ri.gov/programs-and-services/child-care.

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

Respite care is primarily for medically needy children. For other children (such as those with severe behavior problems), the adoption assistance administrator may be able to help the family access respite. Negotiations must be done before finalization with the social worker who is preparing the adoption assistance agreement.

If respite is not part of adoption assistance, parents may be able to access respite services through their local mental health agency. In addition, several organizations offer a variety of respite options. Search for Rhode Island resources in the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service at https://archrespite.org/respitelocator. Adoptive Families in Action provides educational functions and supports to adoptive families in the Cranston area (contact Paul Wynn at 401-944-2342).

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

DCYF may assume costs of residential treatment, with prior approval, if all other available funding (adoptive parents’ medical coverage, funding by local educational authorities, etc.) has been exhausted. Department staff meet with the family to negotiate continued adoption assistance based on the child’s needs and the parent’s continued financial and legal responsibility for the child. If the child needs more intensive services that are not funded by other sources, the parent may sign a Voluntary Placement Agreement with DCYF for assistance with continued funding.

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

Post-adoption services in Rhode Island are administered and provided by the DCYF Permanency Services Unit, and through community services and parent organizations. Services may include:

  • Information and referral
  • Support groups
  • Respite care
  • Daycare services (up to age six)
  • Mediation/search services

DCYF provides services to families adopting older or special needs children, including helping the children understand and accept the adoption experience, helping the family gain an understanding of the children’s past experiences, and making referrals to community resources for services.

For more information, families should contact the Permanency Services Unit at DCYF.

  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?

Whenever possible, parents should identify these services in the adoption assistance agreement at the time of finalization (even if services are not currently needed, but may be in the future). These services can be negotiated after finalization, but it is difficult to do so. DCYF will give consideration to post-finalization requests for these services; approval will be based on case-specific considerations.

What Should Families Know About Applying for Subsidy?

  1. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?

The child’s family service social caseworker initiates the agreement.

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

Determinations of eligibility for adoption assistance (state or IV-E) are made by the Medicaid eligilbity technician assigned to the case. The Permanency Subsidy Manager must make the final approval of the subsidy.

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

The family, or the agency that handled the adoption, should submit a written request for post-finalization adoption assistance to the Permanency Services Unit. The family or agency should provide facts and documentation pertinent to the child’s eligibility for adoption assistance at the time of the adoption, along with any explanation as to why adoption assistance had not been offered previously. The permanency services coordinator will review the request, and submit it for administrative review and, if necessary, fair hearing.

How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?

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

Adoptive parents or DCYF may request an adjustment in the adoption assistance payment at any time during the term of the adoption assistance agreement. To request a change in an adoption assistance agreement, parents should submit a written request to the permanency services coordinator in the Permanency Services Unit (see address below), with documentation that supports the change request. A request for new or additional post-adoption services is considered a change in the adoption assistance agreement. For more information, call the Permanency Services Unit at 401-528-3676.

Permanency Services Coordinator
101 Friendship Street 4th Fl
Providence, RI 02903

DCYF will approve or deny the request to increase the adoption assistance payment. If DCYF denies an increase request, adoptive parents have the right to request a fair hearing (see question 22).

DCYF has the right to request a decrease in the adoption assistance payment at any time during the term of the adoption assistance agreement. Adoption assistance payments for a federal Title IV-E eligible child may be reduced only with the concurrence of the adoptive parent(s).

The provision of state-funded services, including state-funded adoption assistance payments, is subject to annual review and approval of the DCYF. In the event DCYF suspends or revokes the award of a state-funded adoption assistance payment, DCYF will provide the adoptive parent(s) with written notice of the suspension or revocation. In such a case, the adoptive parent(s) may request a fair hearing.

The permanency services coordinator is responsible for negotiating with the adoptive parent(s) any adjustment to adoption assistance payments. Situations that may justify an increase or decrease in payments or services include:

  • Change in SSA or VA benefits
  • Change in the adoptive family’s situation (including an increase in family income or availability of funds)
  • Request for an increase in amount of adoption assistance by adoptive parent(s) up to the amount the child would receive in a DCYF foster care home
  • A child’s placement in out-of-home care (DCYF will review the case and may negotiate a reduction in payment while the child is out of the home.)
  • Shortage of state or federal funds
  • Lack of availability of a program
  1. What steps does a family go through to appeal an adoption assistance decision in Rhode Island?

Adoptive parents can request a fair hearing whenever a DCYF decision affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. Parents should complete a written request for fair hearing form, which DCYF will send with its decision about adoption assistance. Parents return the completed form to the hearing officer with a copy to the permanency services coordinator. A fair hearing will be scheduled, and parents will be notified of its date, time, and place.

Send written requests to the following address: 
Hearing Officer 
101 Friendship Street 
Providence, RI 02908

For more information, visit http://sos.ri.gov/documents/archives/regdocs/released/pdf/
(in particular read pages 2 and 4–6).

What Else do Families Need to Know?

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

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

In Rhode Island, the federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 50.11 percent (the Federal Financial Participation or FFP rate). The remaining cost of the program is state funded.

  1. Does Rhode Island operate a subsidized guardianship program?

Yes. For information, contact the permanency services coordinator at 401-528-3676.

  1. Does Rhode Island offer a tuition waiver program?

Yes, for children adopted from foster care over the age of 16. They may participate in the DCYF Post Secondary Tuition Assistance Program. For more information, visit https://dcyf.ri.gov/sites/g/files/xkgbur416/files/2021-08/Application%20for%20Rhode%20Island%20Department%20of%20Children%20FAQ%208-3-2021.pdf.

  1. Does Rhode Island offer a state adoption tax credit?


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


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


Rhode Island Legal Sources:

Rhode Island’s rules on adoption subsidy, Policy 0700.0090:

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