Updated January 2021
Below you can find information about the adoption assistance benefits that may be available to families who adopt children from British Columbia foster care.
Ministry of Children and Family Development
Office of the Provincial Director of Child Welfare
PO Box 9705 Stn Prov Gov
Victoria, BC V8W 9S1
What Is Adoption Assistance?
Adoption assistance may be available for children with special needs. Often, assistance is provided to encourage the adoption of special needs children and remove the financial disincentives to adoption for the families. If you have questions, please call the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) at 651-644-3036 or our subsidy help line at 800-470-6665, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
British Columbia’s Adoption Resources:
Who Is Eligible for Adoption Assistance?
1. British Columbia’s legal definition of special needs is as follows:
The child must be designated as eligible for the program according to the following in the regulations:
- is under the age of 19 years,
- is or was:
- in the continuing care of the director under the Child, Family and Community Service Act,
- transferred to the care and custody of the director under the Adoption Act or former Act
- under the guardianship of the director under the Family Relations Act, or
- under the guardianship of the director under the Adoption Act,
- a special service need because of
- a diagnosed physical disability or mental disability or both,
- a diagnosed emotional disturbance or behavioral disturbance or both,
- a recognized high risk of developing a physical disability or mental disability or both, or
- a recognized high risk of developing an emotional disturbance or behavioral disturbance, or both, due to pre-natal or post-natal history,
- a special placement need because
- of the age of the child,
- the child is a member of a family group that should be placed together, either jointly or successively,
- the child has established significant emotional ties with a person who proposes to adopt the child, or
- the child has cultural ties that require a culturally compatible placement or support.
- a special service need because of
The adoption workers use the Designation of Child form (CF2208).
What Supports and Services Are Available?
2. If available, the standard adoption assistance rate in British Columbia is:
Maintenance payments are paid for those children who have special needs as outlined in section B, C, and D of the definition of special placement needs.
|0–11||up to $982.90|
|12+||up to $1089.04|
3. Specialized rates or payments, if available, are based on the extraordinary needs of the child, and/or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child. If British Columbia offers special allowances over and above the standard rate, the criteria used to define the higher rates are as follows:
There is a portion of the program that makes payments for special service needs. Direct service support or payment for services related to the special needs of the designated child may include one or more of the following:
- Medical expenses
- Orthodontic and corrective dental treatment
- Home renovations to accommodate an identified need
- Equipment to accommodate an identified need
- Counselling or therapy, including psychological, occupational, speech and hearing therapies
- Remedial education
- Rehabilitation training
- Special needs day care
- Special services to children and youth
- Extraordinary transportation costs
- Any other expenses related to care and treatment
- Direct service support or payment for other service supports to the family, including one or more of the following:
- Respite care
- Parenting programs or other training
- Adoption support and information services
4. In addition to monthly payments, what sort of post-adoption services (respite, counseling, residential treatment, parent training, etc.) are provided? When available, are these services formally specified in the adoption assistance agreement in British Columbia?
Services outlined in Question 3. All financial assistance is provided through a written agreement outlining the maintenance payments and specific services for which payments are applicable.
Several agencies including the Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia (AFA), the Society of Special Needs Adoptive Parents (SNAP), and Queen Alexandra Centre for Children Health provides services to adoptive families.
5. What medical or dental services are available in British Columbia?
Provincial medical service plans are available to all families in British Columbia. Many employers also offer extended medical benefits. If a child is designated as having a special need for which costs cannot be covered through medical insurance plans or community support programs, specific payments can be made under Post Adoption Assistance (PAA).
6. When my child turns 18, which benefits, if any, are available to our family?
All Post Adoption Assistance (PAA) benefits are available until the child’s 19th birthday. Eligibility for the Youth Educational Assistance Fund is available for youth between the ages of 19 and 24 (see Question 22).
7. Do relatives adopting under the program receive the same benefits as non-relatives?
Yes, as long as the child was in the permanent care of the ministry and was designated, and the family meets the eligibility criteria.
8. Do children adopted from private agencies in British Columbia receive the same subsidies as those children adopted from public agencies?
No, only children who have been in the care of the ministry may be designated for the program.
What Should Families Know About Applying for Adoption Assistance?
9. When do subsidy payments begin?
All agreements may begin as soon as the child is placed in the adoptive home.
10. Will British Columbia consider my family income to determine my child’s benefit package?
The adoption workers use the Application/Reapplication for Post Adoption Assistance form (CF2207) as the family’s application and the income test. In addition, financial assistance is not available if the required service or assistance is available at no cost to the parent from another source.
11. Are prospective adoptive families routinely notified of all benefits available to them in British Columbia?
The information regarding the program is contained in the regulations that accompany the legislation. Information regarding the program is made available to prospective adoptive parents who are considering adopting children with special needs in the care of the ministry. If major changes are made (such as the increase in maintenance rates that was made in 2001) a letter is sent to all current families with agreements and the regional adoption workers are notified.
12. Who sets the assistance rates and how are they established?
Currently, the Minister of Children and Family Development sets the Post Adoption Assistance (PAA) maintenance rates.
13. Who makes the final determination of a child’s eligibility in British Columbia? What roles, if any, do workers and administrators at the agency or regional level play in eligibility determination and/or assistance negotiation?
The regional supervisor/team leader for the child’s adoption worker signs the designation for Post Adoption Assistance (PAA). The regional adoption worker for the family determines their eligibility for PAA and negotiates the agreement. The adoption worker uses the Post Adoption Assistance Service and Payment Planning form (CF2710) to determine the amount of the agreement. The supervisor/team leader approves the plan and a Regional Deputy Director of Adoption or his/her Assistant Regional Deputy who holds the budget signs the agreement.
14. Once a child is determined eligible for assistance, is there any requirement to look for an adoptive family who will accept a placement without assistance?
There is no requirement to look for a family who will accept a placement without assistance. All placement decisions are made in the child’s best interests after considering the best interest factors as set out in section 3 of the Adoption Act.
15. Once eligibility is established, how (and by who) are assistance agreements negotiated in British Columbia?
The regional adoption worker for the family determines their eligibility for Post Adoption Assistance (PAA) and negotiates the agreement. The adoption worker uses the Post Adoption Assistance Service and Payment Planning form (CF2710) to determine the amount of the agreement. The supervisor/team leader approves the plan and a Regional Deputy Director of Adoption or his/her Assistant Regional Deputy Director of Adoption signs the agreement.
How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?
16. A child’s adoption assistance agreement may be periodically reviewed by the agency. What is the typical process used in British Columbia?
Agreements may be signed for a maximum of two years. At this time the family must produce receipts for payments for specific services. If they do not have receipts for all money given under this part of the agreement it will be considered an overpayment and recaptured through the next agreement.
17. Can adoption assistance agreements be modified if requested by adoptive parents?
Yes, the agreements may be modified at any time. The adoption worker responsible for supporting the family after placement would negotiate a modification to the agreement.
18. A deferred or nil agreement is one in which the initial monthly assistance payment is $0. If a child’s needs are listed as high risk and symptoms later manifest, the payment is renegotiated. Are deferred agreements offered in British Columbia?
As long as the child was designated, the family can apply for Post Adoption Assistance (PAA) at any time up until the child’s 19th birthday. Deferred or nil agreements are unnecessary. A child who was adopted after November 4, 1996 and who is not a designated child may, on application by the adoptive parent to the director, be determined to be a designated child if the conditions of paragraphs (a), (b) and (c)(i) of the definition of “designated child” can be demonstrated to have existed before the granting of an adoption order under section 35 of the Act.
19. What are the exact steps a family must go through to access the appeal process in British Columbia?
The family may proceed through the regional Ministry of Children and Family Development complaints process.
20. Families may request assistance after the finalization of an adoption under certain circumstances. Below is the process by which families access adoption benefits after finalization.
Regulations permit the following: a child who was adopted after November 4, 1996 and who is not a designated child may, on application by the adoptive parent to the director, be determined by the director to be a designated child if the conditions in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) (i) of the definition of “designated child” can be demonstrated to have existed before the granting of an adoption order under section 35 of the Act.
What Else Do Families Need to Know?
21. How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in British Columbia?
British Columbia has moved to regional governance of child welfare which includes the adoption program. There are five regions, and each has a Director of Child Welfare and Adoption. Each region determines what portion of their budget will be allocated to the post adoption assistance program. The legislation and regulations provide the provincial framework for the program.
22. Below are other programs that may differeniate British Columbia’s adoption assistance program from others around the country.
Adopted youth between their 19th and 24th birthdays who were previously in the permanent care of the Ministry can apply for bursaries of up to $2,500 per year to a maximum of $10,000 over five years from the Youth Educational Assistance Fund.