January 2020

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

Patricia Reiss 
Department of Social Services (DSS)
Kneip Building, 700 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501

NACAC Volunteer

Patty Hjermstad
Parents of Adopted Children (PAC)
605 Thorson Ave 
Florence, SD 57235
Phone: 605-758-2490
rookie-1@itctel.com or pacsupport@itctel.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 adoption.assistance@nacac.org.

Adoption resources on the web:

General adoption information:

South Dakota state-specific medical assistance information: 

South Dakota’s adoption assistance information: 


  1. How does South Dakota define special needs to determine eligibility?

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

  • Eight years of age or older
  • Race or religion
  • Member of a sibling group being placed together for adoption
  • Physical, emotional, neurological, or intellectual disability
  • Need for a prosthesis, extensive, ongoing, or anticipated medical care, or therapy for speech, physical, or psychological disability
  • Adoption by foster parents with whom the child is living is the only appropriate permanency plan

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?

Only available to children in South Dakota foster care who meet the special needs definition above.

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

Yes, but only children who are IV-E eligible.



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







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


  1. When do adoption assistance payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoption placement.

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

As long as the child is still in high school and living at home, adoption assistance may continue until age 21.

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

Yes. South Dakota will write an adoption assistance agreement and put any monthly payment on hold at the adoptive parent’s request.


  1. What Medicaid services are available in South Dakota?

Parents can call the Medical Services line (605-773-3495) for information about Medicaid services or visit http://dss.sd.gov/formsandpubs/docs/MEDSRVCS/MedicalAssistanceRecipientHdbk.pdf.

  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.)

Coverage is the same for both groups of children.

  1. What mental health services are available?

Public mental health services for children in South Dakota are administered by the Department of Social Services, Medical Assistance. Services may include psychiatric and psychological evaluations, individual, group, or family psychotherapy for the care and treatment of mental illness or disorders, in-patient and outpatient hospitalization, and prescription medication.

In South Dakota, children are also eligible for Healthy Kids Klub checkups. These checkups help prevent health problems from occurring or help keep health problems from becoming worse. The Healthy Kids Klub covers screening and diagnostic services to determine physical or mental status and treatment to correct or eliminate defects or chronic conditions. The Klub also covers nutritional therapy, treatment for alcohol and drug chemical dependency, and inpatient psychiatric care. Several of these services require prior authorization from the Department of Social Services (DSS). Local DSS offices are listed at http://dss.sd.gov/findyourlocaloffice/.

For more information about Medical Services, visit http://dss.sd.gov/formsandpubs/docs/MEDSRVCS/MedicalAssistanceRecipientHdbk.pdf, or call Medical Services at 605-773-3495.

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.


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

Parents who adopt a child who has been determined to have special needs may be reimbursed for up to $1,500 per child for nonrecurring costs such as attorney fees, travel expenses, home study, costs, medical/psychological testing expenses, charges related to supervision of placement, and court costs.

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

Respite care can range from a few hours of care provided on a one-time basis to overnight or extended care sessions. For all adoptive families, the only eligibility criteria is that a child is adopted.

This service is provided through the South Dakota Department of Human Services. For more information, contact the Department of Human Services at 1-800-265-9684.

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

Families must request residential care in writing. Funding is generally time-limited (initially 3 to 6 months, followed by a case review). Decisions are based upon severity of need. Parents should send requests with documentation of need, duration, and cost to:
Patricia Reiss
Child Protective Services
700 Governor’s Drive
Pierre, SD 57501

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

Post-adoption services in South Dakota are administered by the Department of Social Services (DSS), Office of Child Protection Services (CPS) through DSS, contracted agencies, and parent groups. Post-adoption services are provided on a case-by case basis and may include:

  • Information and referral
  • Educational programs (funding to attend)
  • Support groups
  • Therapeutic intervention
  • Advocacy
  • Respite Care
  • Residential treatment
  • Mediation/search services (passive registry available)

Services include extensive psychological supports, such as psychiatric evaluation, psychological evaluation, social assessment (child and family), and Marschack Interaction Methods In Home Family Dynamics Assessment. Therapy provided includes individual therapy, family therapy, multi-family therapy, and group therapy for the adopted child. In addition, training therapy materials and school consultation may be covered as are adoptive families’ travel expenses to secure services are covered, including lodging, meals, and mileage.

South Dakota has contracted with the Children’s Home Society to provide evaluations and therapy for adopted children and their families. To apply for post-adoption services, parents should visit http://www.chssd.org/Adoption/PostAdoptionServices.asp, or call the Children’s Home Society in Black Hills at 605-343-2811 or in Sioux Falls at 605-965-3192.

For search/mediation information, parents can visit the Voluntary Adoption Registry at http://dss.sd.gov/childprotection/adoption/registry.aspx or the Opening Adoption Records link: http://dss.sd.gov/childprotection/adoption/records.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 15 are for specific services, must these services be explicitly identified in the adoption assistance agreement?



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

The family services specialist negotiates the assistance amount with the adoptive family, not to exceed the basic foster care rate. The agreement is reviewed by the adoption supervisor and the Division Director of Child Protection Services must approve all adoption assistance agreements.

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

For children who are Title IV-E eligible, the family must request adoption assistance in writing from the department. By federal guidelines, the department denies the request and informs the family that they may then request a fair hearing. A fair hearing is scheduled and is often a non-adversarial process. If the fair hearing examiner finds that the child is in fact eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance, a subsidy is negotiated with the family.
In order to start the process, families can contact Patricia Reiss at 605-773-3227.


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

Adoptive parents can request a change in the adoption assistance agreement whenever there is a change in the family’s circumstances or the child’s needs. Decision are made on a case-by-case basis. To request an amendment to the adoption assistance agreement, the adoptive family must submit a written request to their adoption assistance worker. The administrator and the adoption program specialist consider the request for change. Local DSS offices are listed at http://dss.sd.gov/findyourlocaloffice/.

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

Adoptive parents can request a fair hearing whenever they disagree with a Department of Social Services decision that affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. To request a fair hearing, parents submit a written request to

Administrative Hearings
700 Governors Drive
Pierre, South Dakota 57501

For information on Administrative Hearing procedures visit this web page, https://dss.sd.gov/docs/adminhearings/guidetoadministrativehearings.pdf


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

The program is state supervised/state administered. This means that both policy and eligibility decisions are made by personnel at the state office. Seven districts carry out the directives.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children—known as the Federal Financial Participation or FFP rate—is 51.64 percent in South Dakota. Remaining program costs are paid for with state funds.

  1. Does South Dakota operate a subsidized guardianship program?


South Dakota Legal Sources:

South Dakota Statute §28-1-64

South Dakota’s Subsidized Adoption Regulations 67:14:14

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