Updated November 2017

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

Territorial Contact

Bill Fennell
Deputy Director of Adoptions
Department of Health & Social Services
Box 1000. Stn. 1000
Sivummut Building
Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0


What Is Adoption Assistance?

Adoption assistance may be available for children whom the territory has determined have 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 email us at adoption.assistance@nacac.org.
Government of Nunavut adoption information

Who Is Eligible for Adoption Assistance?

1. Nunavut’s definition of special needs is as follows:

Nunavut’s legislation does not describe the child as eligible, rather the adoptive parents or applicants as eligible for assistance. The Director of Adoptions applies the following criteria before approving a subsidy:

  • It is desirable for the child to be adopted by the adoptive parents;
  • The adoption would place an undue burden on the financial resources of the adoptive parents;
  • The adoptive parents would be unable to adopt the child without the assistance;
  • The financial, or other assistance proposed, is less than the cost to maintain the child in foster care.

In addition to the above mentioned, we consider sibling groups and older children in our care as possible grounds to offer a subsidy.

What Supports and Services Are Available?

2. If available, the standard adoption assistance rate in Nunavut is:

There is no standard rate.  The adoption worker negotiates the subsidy required with the applicant/ adoptive parent.  The subsidy must be less than the cost to maintain the child in foster care and the Director of Adoptions has the final say and signs the subsidy agreement.

3. Specialized rates, if available, are based on the extraordinary needs of the child, and/or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child.  If Nunavut offers special allowances over and above the standard rate, the criteria used to define the higher rates are as follows:

Nunavut has no such rates for subsidized adoptions.

4. In addition to monthly payments, what sort of post-adoption services (respite, counselling, residential treatment, parent training, etc.) are provided?  When available, are these services formally specified in the adoption assistance agreement in Nunavut?

Sec 19(1) of the adoption regulations provides examples of where assistance would be provided, only where it is not already provided by the Government of the Northwest Territories or its agencies.  Assistance may be provided for:

  • Medical aids
  • Training for the child, applicant or adoptive parent
  • Travel for assessment and diagnosis of the child, and for training for the child, applicant or adoptive parent
  • Rehabilitation materials and instruction
  • Personal care assistance
  • Special needs assistance
  • Tutoring, educational materials and equipment
  • Treatment costs that are not insured services
  • Assistance for maintaining contact with the child’s birth family
  • Reference materials pertaining to the child’s condition
  • Respite care
  • Reimbursement for telephone, fax or internet charges necessary to find resources or to maintain contact with adoption workers or the child’s birth family
  • Physical speech and other therapy that are not insured services, and
  • Any other assistance that the Director considers appropriate in the circumstances

These services are addressed in the subsidy/assistance agreement.  They are not separate.

5. What medical or dental services are available in Nunavut?

Please refer to Question 4.

6. When my child turns 18, which benefits, if any, are available to our family?

Children may receive subsidy up to the age of 19 in the Nunavut. There are no provisions for subsidy beyond the age of majority.

7. Do relatives adopting under the program receive the same benefits as non-relatives?

Yes, Nunavut encourages extended families to care for the children.

8. Do children adopted from private agencies in Nunavut receive the same subsidies as those children adopted from public agencies?

Subsidy / assistance applies only to permanent wards in care of the Director of Child & Family Services who are adopted.

What Should Families Know About Applying for Adoption Assistance?

9. When do subsidy payments begin?

Legislation provides for assistance before or after the adoption order is made.

10. Will Nunavut consider my family income to determine my child’s benefit package?

Nunavut does not use income scales to determine subsidies.

11. Are prospective adoptive families routinely notified of all benefits available to them in Nunavut?

There is no statute or regulation requiring routine notification, but the adoptions worker advises adoptive families of benefits available. We have no published brochure for adoptive applicants.

12. Who sets the assistance rates and how are they established?

Each Adoption worker determines the rate on a case-by-case basis and the Director of Adoptions approves the agreement.

13. Who makes the final determination of a child’s eligibility in Nunavut? What roles, if any, do workers and administrators at the agency or regional level play in eligibility determination and/or assistance negotiation?

The adoption worker submits a proposal to their supervisor. The supervisor forwards the proposal to the Director of Adoption for final approval.

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?


15. Once eligibility is established, how (and by whom) are assistance agreements negotiated in Nunavut?

The adoptions worker advises the adoptive parents of the benefits available, and then negotiates the agreement. Rates are determined on a case-by-case basis.

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 Nunavut?

There is no formal procedure in place other than what is established in our adoption regulations.  There is a mandatory review of the agreement after three years.  The Director of Adoption requests the appropriate Social Services Office review and recommend whether to continue, vary, or terminate the assistance.

17. Can adoption assistance agreements be modified if requested by adoptive parents?

Yes.  The adoptive parents may request a modification, and an amendment to the existing agreement may be prepared if supported by an adoptions worker and approved by the Director of Adoptions.

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 Nunavut?

The parents may return and request a subsidy at any time after an adoption order is made.

19. What are the exact steps a family must go through to access the appeal process in Nunavut?

The adoptive parent appeals to the Director of Adoption.  If the Director denies a request, the adoptive parent may appeal to the Minister of Health & Social Services. The Minister establishes an appeal committee to review the decision of the Director.  The decision of the appeal committee is final.

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.

The adoptive parents need to apply to the Director of Adoptions. The Director needs to be satisfied that thechild has a congenital physical or mental condition that was not apparent prior to adoption and the care, and/or treatment for the condition will place an undue burden on the financial resources of the adoptive parents.

What Else Do Families Need to Know?

21. How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in Nunavut?

The program is territorial supervised and locally administered.  The Director of Adoptions is the territorial authority.  Social workers are employed by the Department of Health and Social Services and receive statutory training to be appointed as adoptions workers.  These adoptions workers report to the Director of Adoptions, through their regional supervisors.

22. Below are other programs that may differeniate Nunavut’s adoption assistance program from others around the country.


Our Mission

The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) supports, educates, inspires, and advocates so adoptive families thrive and every child in foster care has a permanent, safe, loving family.


What We Do
Core Beliefs and Values
Board of Directors
Our Partners
Sponsorship Opportunities


North American Council
on Adoptable Children
970 Raymond Avenue
Suite 205
St. Paul, MN 55114


Staff Contact Info

The North American Council on Adoptable Children