Updated September 2019

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

Department of Human Services
Division of Child and Family Services
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84116

NACAC Volunteer

Currently, there is no Utah 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 Subsidy?

Parents who are thinking about or are in the process of adopting a child with special needs from foster care should know about adoption assistance (also known as adoption subsidy). Federal (Title IV-E) and state (often called non-IV-E) adoption assistance programs are designed to help parents meet their adopted children’s varied, and often costly, needs. Children can qualify for federal adoption assistance or state assistance, depending on the child’s history. Adoption subsidy policies and practices are, for the most part, dependent on the state in which the child was in foster care before the adoption.

Below is information related to definitions of special needs, benefits available, and procedures in Utah. Answers to select questions were made available by the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (AAICAMA) through the Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov). Profiles for other states’ subsidy programs are available. If you have additional questions, please contact NACAC at 651-644-3036, 800-470-6665, or adoption.assistance@nacac.org. If you have state-specific questions, please call your State Subsidy Contact Person or the NACAC Subsidy Representative (listed above) for more information.

For more information on Title IV-E eligibility, view our fact sheet Eligibility and Benefits for Federal Adoption Assistance.

Utah’s adoption resources on the web:

Utah’s state-specific medical assistance information: 

Utah’s adoption assistance information: 
Choose Financial Assistance after clicking Building Your Family


Who Is Eligible for Adoption Assistance?

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

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

  • Five years of age or older
  • Member of a sibling group placed together for adoption
  • Physical, emotional, or mental disability
  • At risk to develop a physical, emotional, or mental disability due to specific identified in the child’s or birth parents’ health and social histories.
  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 Utah eligible for adoption assistance?

Only if prior to the court finization of the adoption the child is SSI eligible and meets the state definition of a child with special needs or the child was eligible in a previous Title IV-E adoption.

What Supports and Services Are Available?

Monthly Payments

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

The adoption assistance rate is based on child’s level of need, which is determined by the regional adoption assistance committee. For children who are considered Level 1 the adoption assistance rate is up to 40 percent of the Level 3 foster care rate. For Level 2 the rate is between 20 to 70 percent of the Level 3 foster care rate, and for Level 3 the rate is between 50 and 100 percent of the Level 3 foster care rate.


Level 3 Foster Care rate

Level 1 (0-40%)

Level 2 (20-70%)

Level 3 (50%-100%)






























12 & up








Level 1 applies to a child with a minimal number and severity of needs. It is expected that most of these needs will improve with time, and significant improvement may be anticipated over the course of the adoption. For children ages five and under issues may include, but are not limited to feeding problems, aggressive or self destructive behavior, victimization from sexual abuse, victimization from physical abuse; or no more than one developmental delay in fine motor, gross motor, cognitive or social/emotional domains. For children ages 6 to 18, issues may include but are not limited to social conflict, physical aggression, minor sexual reactivity, need for education resource classes or tutoring, some minor medical problems requiring ongoing monitoring, or mental health issues requiring time-limited counseling.

Level 2 applies to a child with a moderate number and severity of needs. It is expected that a number of the child’s issues are long-term in nature and the adoptive family and child will be working with them over the course of the adoption, and some may intensify or worsen if not managed carefully. Outside provider support will probably continue to be needed during the course of the adoption. For children ages five and under, issues may include, but are not limited to developmental delays in two or more areas of fine motor, gross motor, cognitive or social/emotional domains; diagnosis of failure to thrive; moderate genetic disease or physically disabling condition; or physical aggression expressed several times a week, including superficial injury to self or others.

For children ages 6 to 18, issues may include, but are not limited to daily social conflict or serious withdrawn behavior; moderate risk of harm to self or others due to physically aggressive behavior; emotional or psychological issues with a DSM-5 diagnosis requiring ongoing counseling sessions over an extended period of time; moderate sexual reactivity or perpetration; chronic patterns of being destructive to items or property; cruelty to animals; mild mental cognitive delays or autism, with ongoing need for special education services; and physical disabilities requiring ongoing attendant care or other caretaker support.

Level 3 applies to a child with a significant number or high severity of needs. It is expected that these issues will not moderate and may become more severe over time. The child may require some personal attendant care or specialized care outside of the home, when prescribed by a professional. For children ages five and under issues may include, but are not limited to severe life threatening medical issues; moderate or severe cognitive delays  or autism; serious developmental delays in three or more areas of fine or gross motor, cognitive or social/emotional domains; anticipated need for ongoing support for activities of daily living, such as feeding, dressing and self care; or high levels of threat for harm to self or others due to aggressive behaviors.

For children ages 6 to 18 issues may include, but are not limited to: moderate or severe retardation or autism; life threatening medical issues; severe physical disabilities not expected to improve over time; predatory sexual perpetration; high risk of serious injury to self or others due to aggressive behavior; serious attempts or threats of suicide; severely inhibiting DSM-5 diagnosed mental health disorders diagnosed within the past year that limit normal social and emotional development,; or need for ongoing self contained or special education services.

A child’s need level may be increased in severity by one level if the adoption assistance committee determines that the child’s permanency may be compromised due to financial barriers to the child’s adoption and if at least one of the following circumstances apply:

  • The child has been in state custody for longer than 24 months.
  • The child is nine years of age or older.
  • The child is part of a sibling group of three or more children being placed together for the purposes of adoption.
  1. Does Utah provide specialized rates (based on the extraordinary needs of the child or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child)?

See question 4

  1. When do adoption assistance payments begin?

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin at adoption placement. Adoption assistance usually begins on the  adoption finalization date when the foster care payments ends (see question 20).

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

Typically adoption assistance and benefits continue only until the child reaches age 18. Monthly assistance may continue until the child is 21 years old if the regional adoption assistance committee has determined that the youth has a mental or physical disability that warrants continuing assistance. DCFS Post Adoption Specialists can work with an adoptive family to help develop a plan and arrange for community services that may be appropriate for adopted youth as they turn 18.

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


Medical Care

  1. What Medicaid services are available in Utah?
  • Hospital—inpatient and outpatient
  • Physician
  • Podiatrist
  • X-ray (radiology and laboratory)
  • Medical supplies
  • Medical transportation
  • Mental health
  • Psychologist—Psychological testing and individual therapy over three sessions require prior authorization. Individual psychotherapy and day treatment require prior authorization
  • Nursing home
  • Skilled nursing facility
  • Intermediate care facility
  • Intermediate Care facility for people with Intellectual Disabilites
  • Speech
  • Audiology
  • Home health care
  • Physical therapy
  • Dental—emergency treatment, root canal treatment, all fillings, stainless steel crowns
  • Children’s Health and Evaluation Care Recipients (Children under 21)
  • Vision care
  • Certified nurse midwife
  • Pharmacy (drugs)

The state contact person is Cosette Mills, 801-538-4058. For more information, visit https://medicaid.utah.gov/ .

  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.)

Although Utah has not given blanket Medicaid eligibility for all children receiving adoption assitance, in general, most non-IV-E children receive Medicaid coverage. By state plan, Utah will only cover those non-Title IV-E children who qualified for Medicaid at the time of the adoption and who have medical or rehabilitative needs that qualify them as medically needy.

  1. What mental health services are available?

Public mental health services for children in Utah are administered by the Department of Health through Public Mental Health Centers and their contracted providers. Mental health services  include diagnostic and rehabilitative services, individual and family psychotherapy, skills training and development, physician services, and prescription drugs.

See a list of mental health services through Medicaid at https://medicaid.utah.gov/medicaid-benefits.

Additional information is available at www.utahadopt.org , under Support and Resources, Adoptive Family Resource Library, then click on the Mental Health.

Please note that not all services are available in all cases. Families should contact their adoption assistance worker or medical assistance specialist for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

Other Benefits

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

Families can apply for reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses (travel costs, home study costs, attorney fees, etc.) up to $2,000 per child. Applications must be received 30 days before finalization so that the application can be approved before finalization as required by law.

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


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

Hourly in-home respite care is available to families who adopt from DCFS, and is provided through contracted private community agencies throughout the state. Adoptive parents must pay a co-pay of $5 per hour (regardless of the number of children in the home). DCFS Post Adoption Specialists may be able to arrange for longer respite care stays depending on the adoptive family’s situation and available options in the community. The availability of respite care differs considerably throughout the state.

In addition, many private organizations offer respite options. Additional information is available by search for Utah programs at the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service: https://archrespite.org/respitelocator

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

Residentail treatment is available on a limited basis.  Adoptive parents must contact their local DCFS post adoption worker to help assess the child’s needs and what DCFS contracted providers can meet the need.  Medicaid pays the direct mental health treatment costs and the parents pay the room and board costs.  Room and board costs may be paid with the monthly subsidy and additional out-of-pocket funds.  The parents and post adoptive worker may also apply for state supplemental funding to cover additional costs.

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

Utah may provide time-limited funding for extraordinary, infrequent, or uncommon documented needs not covered by monthly adoption assistance or Medicaid. The funding is  provided through state-funded Supplemental Adoption Assistance Agreements that are for 2 to 6 months. Requests are reviewed by a statewide Supplemental Adoption Assistance Committee.

Other post-adoption services in Utah are provided by DCFS, contracted agencies, and parent organizations. Post-adoption services may include:

  • Information and referral
  • Quarterly newsletter
  • Lending library of books and audio recordings
  • Educational classes
  • Support groups
  • Parent chat room
  • Training trainers programs
  • Factsheets
  • Search and reunion assistance/information

Utah contracts with the Adoption Exchange for many services. Parents can find additional information at the Adoptive Family Resoruces link on  www.utahadopt.org. The site has information, national links, and local resources.

The Utah Foster Care Foundation has developed support group clusters throughout the state that include foster and adoptive parents. Many regions of the state also have adoptive parent support groups.

Please note that not all services may be available in all cases. Parents should contact their adoption assistance worker or post-adoption worker 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?


What Should Families Know about Applying for Adoption assistance?

  1. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?

The child’s caseworker or a DCFS adoption worker talks to the prospective adoptive parents about adoption assistance.  The conversation includes the levels of needs and what services the parent’s will need to be successful in parenting the child.

The parent then makes a request for a monthly amount that is within the parameters of the child’s level.  The caseworker of adoption worker presents the request and reasons to the regional Adoption Assistance Committee. 

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

The Regional Adoption Assistance Committee is responsible for approving adoption assistance agreements, approving renegotiations, reconsiderations, and the reinstatement of adoption assistance.

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

Families who request adoption assistance after adoption finalization must request an administrative hearing according to the steps specified in question 22. The parents must be able to show that one of the following occurred for the request to be considered:

  • relevant facts regarding the child, the biological family, or the child’s background were known to the agency but were not presented to the adoptive parents prior to finalization
  • a denial of assistance was based upon a means test of the adoptive family
  • an erroneous state determination was used to find a child ineligible for assistance
  • the state or adoptive agency failed to advise the adoptive parents of the availability of assistance

How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?

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

Parents may call, send a letter, or make an in-person request of their adoption assistance worker to change their adoption assistance agreement at any time.

Local DCFS offices are listed at https://dcfs.utah.gov/contact-us/interactive-location-map/.

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

Adoptive parents may send a written request for a fair haring to the Utah Department of Human Services any time an adoption assistance application is not acted upon promptly, a family is denied adoption assistance, adoption assistance is reduced, or adoption assistance is not funded at the requested rate. When  adoption assistance is not funded at the requested rate,notification of the right to a fair hearing (also known as an appeal) and an explanation of the hearing process are sent to the family. Parents can return the notification to the agency indicating they wish to request a fair hearing.

Additional information is available in the Utah Administrative Code (state law) for a complete outline of fair hearing process and procedures under UT Admin Code R512-43-11: 

What Else Do Families Need to Know?

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

The program is state supervised/state administered, which means that both policy and eligibility decisions are made by personnel at the state office. The state is divided into five regions, with regional offices across the state reporting to a regional director who then reports to one state-level administrator.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 69.90% in Utah. This is known as the Federal Financial Participation or FFP rate. The remaining cost of the program is funded with state dollars.

  1. Does Utah operate a subsidized guardianship program?

Yes. The child may receive Medicaid and the family may receive a guardianship subsidy. The program is funded entirely with state funds. Some regions are currently not funding guardianship subsidies because of budget shortfalls.

For more information, parents can contact Tanya Albornoz at 801-538-4100.

  1. Does Utah offer a tuition waiver program?

No, but the state does offer the Chafee Educational and Trainnig Voucher program. Under the program, youth who were 16 years or older when they were adopted from DCFS are eligible for up to $5,000 per year while in college or a vocational or technical training program. The voucher application may be obtained from the DCFS regional Transition to Adult Living coordinator or:

Crystal Vail
Utah Division of Human Services
Division of Children and Family Services
195 North 1950 West 
Salt Lake City, UT  84116

  1. Does Utah offer a state adoption tax credit?

In Utah, a taxpayer may claim a $1,000 refundable credit for adopting a child or children, who are adopted and who are determined to have special needs. This credit may only be claimed in the tax year the court issues the order granting the adoption.  The credit is a maximum of $1,000 for the year of adoption regardless of the number of children adopted.

To claim this credit, the adoptive must reside in Utah at the time of adoption and the child must meet one of the following conditions:

  • Be five years of age or older,
  • Be under the age of 18 and have a physical, emotional, or mental disability; or
  • Be a member of a sibling group of two or more placed together for adoption.
  1. Does Utah have any program to support an adoptee whose adoptive parents die until the child is adopted again?

No, as with any child, the parents would need to have a legal document to instruct who would care for the child in case of the parents death.   

  1. 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?

    Checks are mailed or directly deposited on the Friday following the first Wednesday of the month. Families who are having problems with their payments should contact their Adoption Assistance worker, which is on the original agreement and the annual letters. For families who do not know their worker, they may contact 801-538-4171.

  2. What else differentiates Utah’s adoption assistance program from others around the country?

Each year, Utah sends a letter to parents of children receiving adoption assistance. The letter reminds the parents of the language in the Adoption Assistance Agreement to notify the state if there are changes in contact information or if they are no longer legally responsible for the child or providing care. The annual letter also notifies the parent about contact information for post-adoption services, adoption assistance, and Medicaid.

Utah Legal Resources:

Utah adoption-related statutes: 
Utah Code 62A-4a-901 through 62A-4a-907
Scroll down and click on Title 62A; scroll down to Title 62A Chapter 04a; then scroll down to 62A-4a-901

Utah Rules R512-43, Adoption Assistance: 


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