Below you can find information about the adoption assistance benefits that may be available to families who adopt children from Ontario foster care. In 2012, Ontario created a province-wide Target Subsidy program, which is outlined below. Children adopted after June 15, 2012 are eligible for the Target Subsidy program, but may also receive additional benefits based on their Children’s Aid Society.
For children adopted before June 15, 2012, any benefits will be based on the individual Children’s Aid Society. Please note that eligibility and benefits vary widely across Ontario. Some agencies do not offer any post-adoption supports at all. Others provide one-time or limited funding.
We recommend you contact your Children’s Aid Society for more information about either additional benefits for children adopted after June 15, 2012 or about children adopted before that date.
London Coalition of Adoptive Families
Adoption Council of Canada
What Is Adoption Assistance?
Many Canadian provinces provide some adoption assistance benefits for children with special needs who are adopted from foster care. The adoption assistance program is designed to encourage the adoption of children who might otherwise remain in foster care. If available, benefits are typically provided by the province from which the child was adopted. Profiles for each province or territory are available on our web site at www.nacac.org. If you have additional questions, please call the provincial contact person (listed above) or 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.
Ontario’s Adoption Resources:
- Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services
- Adoption Statutes, Child and Family Services Act Part VII. Adoption
Who Is Eligible for Adoption Assistance?
1. Which children are eligible for Ontario’s adoption assistance program?
On June 15, 2012, the Government of Ontario introduced the Targeted Subsidy program, providing adoption subsidy province wide for certain children who are Crown wards. For children to be eligible for this program, they must be:
- at least 10 years of age or
- a sibling where the children are adopted together
The child can benefit if he or she is adopted or placed in the legal custody of a parent. The rules are the same whether it is an adoption or a legal custody placement.
NOTE: Before establishment of this program, some Children’s Aid Societies (CASs) had programs that provided adoption subsidy for children who would not meet the above requirement. Parents adopting children who do not qualify for Targeted Subsidy should ask the placing CAS if adoption subsidy is available.
2. Will Ontario consider family income to determine a child’s benefit package?
To receive benefits through the Targeted Subsidy program for siblings and children 10 and older, the adoptive family must have a combined annual family income of $85,000 or less, as shown on line 236 of their most recent Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) personal income tax return.
Individual CAS subsidy programs may or may not have an income test.
What Supports and Services are Available?
3. What is the standard adoption assistance rate in Ontario?
The Targeted Subsidy program provides a benefit $950 per month. Benefits for individual CAS subsidy programs vary.
4. Does Ontario offer specialized rates or payments based on the extraordinary needs of the child or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child? If yes, what are the criteria to receive the higher rates?
The Targeted Subsidy program offers the same rate ($950 per month) for all eligible children and youth. Parents adopting children who do not qualify for the Targeted Subsidy program should ask the placing CAS if adoption supports are available and at what levels.
5. When do adoption assistance payments begin?
The Targeted Subsidy program came into effect on June 15, 2012. For this program, families adopting eligible children and youth will receive benefits as of the date the child is (or children are) placed in the family’s home for adoption.
6. When a child turns 18, which benefits, if any, are still available to the family?
The Targeted Subsidy program ends at 18. As noted above, some CASs may have established other programs to support adoption of Crown wards. Parents should ask the placing CAS if supports are available beyond age 18.
7. Do relatives adopting under the program receive the same benefits as non-relatives?
Yes, as long as the child was a Crown ward.
8. Are deferred agreements offered in Ontario? (A deferred or nil agreement is one with an initial monthly assistance payment of $0 where a child is at high risk of developing difficulties later. If a child’s needs later become apparent, parents can then renegotiate the payment.)
Not for the Targeted Subsidy program. Individual CAS subsidy programs may provide such agreements.
9. In addition to monthly payments, what post-adoption services (respite, counselling, child care, residential treatment, parent training, etc.) are provided? When available, are these services formally specified in the adoption assistance agreement in Ontario? Are there specific eligibility requirements for any of the services offered?
There are no specific post-adoption services available as part of the Targeted Subsidy program, and the program assumes that parents will use these funds for additional supports as needed. Individual CASs may provide other assistance on a case-by-case basis.
10. What medical, mental health, or dental services are available in Ontario beyond provincial health insurance?
The Targeted Subsidy program does not include additional health and dental supports. Some CASs may provide assistance through other programs.
What Should Families Know About Applying for Adoption Assistance?
11. Do parents have to request adoption assistance benefits? When and from whom? Who starts the process of negotiating the adoption assistance agreement?
For the Targeted Subsidy program, the CAS will provide the benefits; parents do not need to apply. Parents who are adopting children who are not eligible should check with their CAS to determine if they can apply for any other supports.
12. Who makes the final decision about a child’s eligibility for adoption assistance? What roles, if any, do workers and administrators at the agency or regional level play in either determining eligibility or negotiating the assistance benefits?
All children who are adopted at 10 years and older and all sibling groups are automatically eligible for, and will receive, the Targeted Subsidy program benefit. Local CASs may have other programs, with decisions made at the leadership level of the CAS.
13. Families may sometimes request assistance after adoption finalization. What does the family need to do to make such a request? Under what circumstances might such a request be granted?
Children are either eligible or not eligible for the Targeted Subsidy program. If the family income makes a child ineligible for the Targeted Subsidy at the time of placement, that child may become eligible at a later date if the family income drops below the threshold.
Individual CAS subsidy programs may be available after finalization.
How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?
14. Can adoptive parents ask to change an adoption assistance agreement?
For CAS programs other than the Targeted Subsidy, families may make a request to the CAS for a change.
15. Does Ontario do a periodic review of each child’s adoption assistance agreement? If yes, how often and what is the process?
For the Targeted Subsidy program, the CAS will conduct an annual review. The CAS will look at the family income to determine if the subsidy will continue.
What Else Do Families Need to Know?
16. If a family disagrees with a decision about the adoption assistance benefits offered, how can they appeal?
The Targeted Subsidy program decision is made based on the stated eligibility requirements. If parents are not eligible they may contact the CAS and ask for consideration of their circumstances.
17. Does Ontario operate a subsidized guardianship program?
The Targeted Subsidy program also allows for subsidy for parents who have taken legal custody of a Crown ward.
18. Does Ontario offer any tuition assistance for youth currently or formerly in foster care?
Ontario has the comprehensive post-secondary programs for current and former Crown wards, including those who have been adopted. For youth who were not adopted, supports including providing grants to cover application fees, tuition, and living expenses for youth up age 25. For youth who are adopted, the application fee and tuition support may be available, depending on the student’s age and the parent’s income.
For more information, visit the following sites:
19. Does Ontario offer a provincial adoption tax credit?
There is no specific adoption tax credit. However, adoption subsidies are not taxable income.
20. How is the adoption assistance program operated and funded in Ontario?
The Targeted Subsidy program guidelines and funding come from the Ministry. The Ministry reimburses the individual CAS for the subsidy they pay to families.
CAS funding under the Ministry uses a formula that includes funds related to permanency for children in their care. These funds may be used to provide subsidy to children who do not qualify for the Targeted Subsidy program.
21. What else should prospective or current adoptive parents know about Ontario’s adoption assistance program?
Historically, many CASs had their own adoption subsidy programs. If child or family is not eligible for Targeted Subsidy, they should ask the placing CAS about other programs that may support the child.