Updated May 2014
Below you will find information about the adoption assistance benefits that may be available to families who adopt children from foster care in Texas. Adoption subsidy policies and practices are, for the most part, dependent on the state where the child was in foster care before the adoption.
Dept. of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)
PO Box 149030, Mail Code Y-934
Austin, TX 78714-9030
713-767-2651; Fax: 512-339-5927
San Antonio, TX
Cell Phone: 210-639-0779
Texas Council on Adoptable Children
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:
Texas state-specific medical assistance information:
Texas’s adoption assistance information:
Who is Eligible for Adoption Assistance or Subsidy?
- How does Texas define special needs to determine eligibility?
A child with special needs is defined as a child who has at least one of the following needs or circumstances that may be a barrier to adoptive placement or adoption without financial assistance:
- the child is at least six years old;
- the child is at least two years old and a member of a racial or ethnic group that exits foster care at a slower pace than other racial or ethnic groups;
- the child is being adopted with a sibling or is joining a sibling who has been adopted by the parents or for whom the parents already have permanent managing conservatorship or an equivalent arrangement in another state; or
- the child has a verifiable physical, mental, or emotional handicapping condition, as established by an appropriately qualified professional’s diagnosis.
- the child has been determined by the Social Security Administration to meet all the medical or disability requirements for eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits
Children must be legally free for adoption to be eligible for adoption assistance and must be younger than 18 years old at the time of adoptive placement.
- 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 be a special needs child as defined above and under the managing conservatorship of the state of Texas (in state custody/under jurisdiction of the state) at the time of adoptive placement.
- Are children adopted from private agencies in Texas eligible for subsidies?
Children who are adopted from private agencies may qualify for adoption assistance if they are removed by judicial order from their home and they have been determined by the Social Security Administration to meet all the medical or disability requirements for eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
What Supports and Services Are Available?
For children whose foster care service level is Basic at the time of adoptive placement, the maximum adoption assistance payment is $400 per month. The actual payment is determined in a negotiation process between the adoptive parents and the state.
- Does Texas provide specialized rates (based on the extraordinary needs of the child or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child)?
For children whose foster care service level is Moderate or higher at the time of adoptive placement, the maximum adoption assistance payment is $545 per month. The actual payment is determined in a negotiation process between the adoptive parents and the state.
- When do adoption assistance payments begin?
Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin the first day of the month after the month of the adoptive placement.
- When a child turns 18, which benefits, if any, continue?
Typically, a child may receive adoption assistance only through the month of his or her 18th birthday. Beginning October 1, 2010, certain youth adopted as older teens may receive extended adoption assistance benefits through the month in which they turn 21. Youth are eligible for these extended adoption assistance benefits if the following requirements are met:
- The youth’s adoptive parents initially enter into an adoption assistance agreement with DFPS following the youth’s 16th birthday and before the youth’s 18th birthday; and
- The youth or adoptive family submits documentation to establish that the youth is:
- regularly attending high school or enrolled in a program leading toward a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate;
- regularly attending an institution of higher education or a postsecondary vocational or technical program;
- participating in a program or activity that promotes or removes barriers to employment;
- employed for at least 80 hours a month; or
- incapable of performing the activities described above because of a documented medical condition. There is a presumption that a youth is capable of performing the activities and the burden of proof to demonstrate that the youth is incapable is the adoptive family’s responsibility.
Extended adoption assistance benefits are not available to youth adopted before October 1, 2010 or youth who turned 18 before that date.
Each year, the adoptive parent must submit documents to the adoption assistance eligibility specialist verifying that the student works or attends school.
- Does Texas offer deferred adoption assistance agreements (agreements where initial monthly maintenance amount is $0 for children at risk of developing special needs later)?
No. Texas does, however, offer a deferred agreement for families who adopt eligible children but who choose not to receive adoption assistance at the time of adoption. Under the terms of a deferred agreement, the child’s eligibility for adoption assistance is already established, and if the family and child require assistance in the future, the family and DFPS will negotiate specific agreements for benefits including Medicaid or monthly financial assistance at that time.
- What Medicaid services are available in Texas?
For a list of Medicaid services available in Texas, parents should contact the Medicaid hotline at 800-335-8957 or visit www.tmhp.com.
- 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.)
Both Title IV-E and non-Title-IV-E eligible children receive the same Adoption Assistance Medicaid benefits.
- What mental health services are available?
Public mental health services for children in Texas are administered through the Health and Human Services Commission and may include psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health services; outpatient counseling for chemical dependency; in-patient hospital services; rehabilitative services and case management for mental illness; and prescription/pharmacy services.
Medicaid may also pay for mental health services. For a list of available Medicaid services, parents should contact the Medicaid hotline at 800-335-8957 or visit www.tmhp.com.
- In Texas, what nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption may be reimbursed?
Parents can be reimbursed up to $1,200 per child in nonrecurring adoption expenses such as reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses that are directly related to legal completion of the adoption not incurred in violation of state or federal law. These other expenses may include costs associated with required health and psychological evaluations, and the reasonable costs of transportation, lodging, and food for the adoptive parent and/or child when necessary to complete the placement or the adoption process. Expense receipts must be submitted to DFPS no later than 18 months after finalization.
By federal policy, stepparent adoptions do not qualify for nonrecurring adoption expense reimbursement.
- Is child care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access child care?
- Is respite care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access respite care?
Respite is not provided through the adoption assistance program, but the state-funded post-adoption support contractors may offer respite care depending on funding (see question 16). Many other organizations also offer respite options. Parents can search for Texas programs in the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service at http://archrespite.org/respitelocator.
- Is residential treatment available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access residential treatment services?
In limited situations, the post-adoption services program can assist with short-term residential services. Parents should contact their local DFPS adoption unit or post-adoption services provider to inquire about services. (See the link in the question below for a list of adoption contacts.)
- What other post-adoption services are available in Texas and how do families find out more about them?
Post-adoption services in Texas are overseen by DFPS through contracts with outside agencies in each region. DFPS post-adoption services include the following:
- Case work/case management
- Outpatient therapy
- Parent training
- Residential treatment (limited)
- Support groups
- Respite Care
- Information and referral
Parents can contact their DFPS adoption worker for more information on post-adoption services in their region. DFPS adoption workers are listed at https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/About_Adoption/adoption_support.asp
The voluntary adoption registry is at
- 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?
What Should Families Know About Applying for Subsidy?
- Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?
The DFPS regional adoption assistance eligibility specialist will start the adoption assistance agreement once the caseworker provides the specialist with all the necessary paperwork.
- Who makes the final determination on an adoption assistance agreement?
Eligibility is determined by a DFPS regional adoption assistance eligibility specialist.
- How do families request adoption assistance after finalization of an adoption?
Families should contact the DFPS office or agency that placed the child and supervised the adoption to obtain an application. To receive benefits after the finalization of an adoption, the following must take place:
- Parents must request a hearing and show there is reason why there is not a adoption assistance agreement. Reasons may include but are not limited to:
- The agency did not inform the parents of the adoption assistance program before the adoption was final.
- The placing agency knew facts relevant to the child’s eligibility for adoption assistance but did not disclose them to parents before the adoption.
- The child’s physical, mental, emotional disabling condition could not be diagnosed before the adoption, but was later diagnosed by an appropriately qualified professional as having existed at the time of the adoptive placement.
- The state made an error in determining the child’s eligibility before the adoption.
- The state denied the assistance because of a means test.
- In the hearing, parents must prove both:
- the reason for not having a signed agreement before the adoption, and
- that the child met all eligibility requirements before the adoption.
- If DFPS agrees that the child was eligible for adoption assistance before the adoption was finalized and the parents’ failure to obtain a signed agreement can be excused, DFPS can sign a negotiated order and forgo a hearing. Before the family can receive benefits, the hearing officer must approve the order and parents must sign an adoption assistance agreement.
How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?
- Can adoptive parents ask to change an adoption assistance agreement?
Adoptive parents or DFPS can initiate a review of an adoption assistance agreement any time there is a change in the child’s circumstances, such as where the child is living, the child’s legal status, or a change that may affect program eligibility. Parents must make the request in writing to the adoption assistance benefits negotiator. (Contact information is available at http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/About_Adoption/adoption_support.asp.)
Upon receipt of a request for a change in the monthly payment, the negotiator contacts the adoptive parents within 10 working days to negotiate a new payment amount. Any negotiated increases are effective no earlier than the first of the following month after a new agreement is signed. Parents may request a fair hearing if DFPS denies the request.
Parents have no right to appeal a decision that provides them with the maximum monthly payment for the child’s level of care at the time of adoption. If the child was determined to be at the Basic rate at the time of adoption, the maximum monthly payment is $400 regardless of the child’s current circumstances.
See questions 4 and 5 for the maximum rates.
- What steps does a family go through to appeal an adoption assistance decision in Texas?
Adoptive families have the right to request a fair hearing any time they experience a delay, denial, suspension, reduction, or termination affecting the adoption assistance agreement. Parents must make a request for fair hearing to the DFPS adoption assistance worker in writing within 90 days of the effective date of the delay, denial, suspension, reduction, or termination action. Families can represent themselves or have another person, including an attorney, represent them at the fair hearing.
Parents have no right to appeal a decision that provides them provide all available benefits, including the maximum allowable monthly payment for the child’s level of care at the time of adoption. (See questions 4 and 5 for more information and the maximum rates.)
What Else do Families Need to Know?
- How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in Texas?
The program is state administered. The application and approval process is handled at the regional level in accordance with established statewide policy and procedures.
The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children—known as the Federal Financial Participation or FFP rate—is approximately 58.69% in Texas. The remaining cost of the program is funded with state funds.
- Does Texas operate a subsidized guardianship program?
Texas offers guardianship assistance, otherwise known as DFPS Permanency Care Assistance, to certain kinship caregivers who become certified foster parents and obtain Permanent Managing Conservatorship of a child they care for. Parents can find more information at http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/handbooks/CPS/
- Does Texas offer a tuition waiver program?
Children who were the subject of an adoption assistance agreement qualify for tuition and fees waiver if the youth attends a state-supported and funded college or university in Texas. Youth who age out of foster care also qualify for the tuition and fee waiver program. The school’s financial aid office can provide youth with additional information. For more information, parents should contact a DFPS regional adoption assistance specialist (http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/About_Adoption/adoption_support.asp).
In addition, the Texas Education and Training Voucher Program may provide youth funding of up to $5,000 per year while they are in college or a vocational or technical training program. Youth may qualify if:
- They are 18, 19 or 20 years old.
- They are in foster care or were in foster care as a teenager and are a U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen
- They aged out of the foster care system at age 18 or were adopted from foster care with adoption finalization after their 16th birthday.
- They have been accepted into or are enrolled in a degree, certificate, or other program at a college, university, technical, or vocational school and they show progress towards that degree or certificate.
More information is available at http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Protection/
- Does Texas offer a state adoption tax credit?
- Does Texas have any program to support an adoptee whose adoptive parents die until the child is adopted again?
There are no benefits until a child is adopted again. Adoption assistance can be resumed in a subsequent adoption if the adoptive parents die or the court terminates their rights if the following conditions are met before finalization of the subsequent adoption:
- The child is determined to be a child with special needs and
- A new adoption assistance agreement is signed before finalization of the subsequent adoption.
The subsequent adoption must occur in accordance with state law, but it is not necessary for the child to be placed by a licensed or certified child-placing agency. If the child was eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance, the new adoptive parents must be residents of Texas. Otherwise, they are referred to their resident state’s Title IV-E agency for assistance. If the child was eligible for state adoption assistance, DFPS will resume the assistance if the above conditions are met, regardless of where the new parents live.
Parents should contact the regional adoption assistance specialist with questions (http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/About_Adoption/adoption_support.asp).
- 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?
Texas does not have specific processing date. However, if payment has not been received by or after the 15th of the month, families should contact their Regional Adoption Assistance Specialist http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/About_Adoption/adoption_support.asp.
Families may receive their adoption assistance through direct deposit. The state office or Regional Adoption Assistance Specialist can set it up. It take 30-60 days in which time the adoptive family will continue to receive a paper check.
If families are not able to get a hold of their Specialist, they can contact Latasha Henry at 1-800-233-3405 option 3.
- What else differentiates Texas’s adoption assistance program from others around the country?
Texas Legal Sources:
Texas Statute §162.301 to §162.306:
Texas Administrative Code, Title 40, Part 19, Chapter 700, Subchapter H, Adoption Assistance Program:
Child Protection Services Handbook, Section 1700 to 1763 Adoption Assistance Program: