Guide to Adoption in Nevada - Subsidized Adoption Assistance Program for Special Needs Children

Adoption assistance programs were developed to encourage and support the adoption of special needs children from foster care, by enabling families to adopt without placing an undue burden on the family. Subsidies are provided in four basic categories: medical coverage, limited reimbursement of adoption related costs, social services and financial assistance. Families adopting special needs children through private agencies may also be eligible, and are encouraged to apply.

Types of Subsidies Available in Nevada

Federal Adoption Assistance

Public Law 96-272, the Child Welfare and Adoption Assistance Act of 1980, required States to establish an adoption subsidy program for children with special needs who are eligible for Title IV-E funding under the Social Security Act. Eligible children may receive financial and/or medical assistance. The subsidy payment must be based on the child’s special needs rather than the family’s income; and may not exceed the foster care payment rate. Federal law mandates that the resources of the adoptive parents cannot be considered when determining a child's eligibility for Title IV-E adoption assistance, however, the circumstances of the family and the needs of the child must both be taken into consideration when determining the nature and amount of assistance.

State Adoption Assistance

Nevada also offers a state funded adoption subsidy program for children not eligible under the Federal program. Eligible children may also receive financial and/or medical assistance to meet their ongoing special needs. Subsidy assistance for the state program is also based on the child’s needs rather than the family’s income.  Financial assistance provided cannot exceed the established foster care rate

Special Needs Criteria

A child for whom placement with an adoptive family is made more difficult because of the child’s age, race, number of siblings, or because the child suffers from a severe or chronic medical, physical, mental or emotional condition is considered to be “special needs.” Generally, a child over the age of five years, a member of a sibling group who need to be placed together, a member of a minority ethnic group, and/or children of any age who experience behavioral, developmental, physical or medical challenges are considered special needs. Children not defined, as special needs are not eligible for subsidy assistance.

What kind of assistance is available?

Medical Coverage

Eligible children would receive medical care through the State’s medical assistance program (Medicaid). This service may assist the family in meeting a child’s medical needs, including pre-existing medical conditions.

Financial Payments

A monthly grant to reimburse expenses related to the child’s care may be approved; however, it cannot exceed the established payment rate for the child if they were in foster care.

Nonrecurring Adoption Finalization Costs

Families adopting special needs children may be reimbursed for fees related to finalization of the adoption up to a fixed amount. These fees may include:

  • Legal costs-court filing fees and attorney fees not to exceed $500.00 per eligible child;
  • Agency fees paid for completion of home study; and/or
  • Travel costs related to visiting the child prior to placement with the family

How do I apply for assistance?

You and your adoption worker complete a subsidy application packet together that is submitted to your local DCFS office or county agency which provides child welfare services for a determination of eligibility. It must include professional documentation of the child’s special needs. The amount and type of subsidy is determined by considering the child’s needs along with the adoptive parents’ circumstances, resources and ability to cover the child’s cost of care.

When should I apply for assistance?

Adoption subsidy applications and agreements must be approved prior to finalization of the adoption in order for the agreement to be valid. The application should be submitted well in advance of the time you plan to go to court.

Once you and your worker have settled on the type and amount of assistance, an agreement will be sent to you for your signature following submission and approval of your application by the State or county agency staff. You will sign and return it to your State or county office for administrative approval. An agreement is not approved until all parties to the agreement have signed and dated it.

If you are adopting an eligible special needs child and require ongoing assistance through the subsidy program, you must not finalize the adoption until your subsidy application and agreements are approved by State or county agency officia

What if my application for assistance is denied?

If you make application for subsidy assistance and you do not agree with the agency’s decision regarding your application, you may request a conference with the State or county agency administrative staff to review the decision. If after the conference you still disagree with the agency’s decision, you may request a fair hearing to further review your application.