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1700 Adoption Assistance Program

CPS October 2010

Definitions

For a list and definition of terms related to the Adoption Assistance program, see Texas Administrative Code §700.801.

1710 Description of the Adoption Assistance Program

CPS October 2010

The purpose of adoption assistance is to facilitate adoption of children with special needs who might otherwise not be adopted. The law requires efforts to be made to place the child without adoption assistance, except when doing so is not in the child’s best interest. If a child is eligible for adoption assistance, the following types of benefits may be available:

  •  Monthly payments negotiated and paid to an eligible caregiver to assist a child with special needs

  •  Medical assistance, which is provided through the Medicaid Program

  •  Reimbursement of Nonrecurring Expenses related to obtaining adoption assistance for an eligible child

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.802(b)

Such benefits can provide families otherwise unable to adopt a child with special needs with assistance that will facilitate the adoption and provide the child a permanent home.

Adoption assistance is not intended to replace the adoptive parents’ legal responsibility to support their children. Families are responsible for using their own resources to help them provide for the child’s needs. These resources are considered when determining a family’s receipt of adoption assistance.

1711 Adoption Assistance Eligibility Requirements for Children Adopted From DFPS Conservatorship

1711.1 General Eligibility Requirements

CPS October 2010

For any child adopted from DFPS conservatorship to be eligible for Title IV-E or state-paid adoption assistance, the following eligibility requirements must be satisfied:

  •  The child must meet the definition of a child with special needs, as described in 1711.2 Determining Whether a Child Has Special Needs.

  •  The home into which the child is placed for adoption must be approved as an adoptive home in accordance with Minimum Standards for Child-Placing Agencies in Texas or in accordance with applicable law if the child is placed for adoption into another state. This includes a requirement that a home in Texas has an approved home screening and meets the Texas requirements regarding prohibited criminal and abuse or neglect history.

  •  The adoptive parent(s) must sign an adoption assistance agreement before the consummation of the adoption.

      There are limited exceptions to this requirement, as explained in 1719.2 An Agreement for Adoption Assistance Was Not Signed Before an Adoption’s Consummation.

  •  The child cannot be an internationally adopted applicable child. See 1712.3 International Adoptions.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.803

1711.2 Determining Whether a Child Has Special Needs

CPS October 2010

A child with special needs is one who meets all of the criteria in this item.

Eligible Conditions for Adoption Assistance

At the time the adoptive placement agreement is signed, the child is less than 18 years old and meets at least one of the following conditions:

      On the day immediately preceding the date of adoption, the child was in the managing conservatorship of DFPS or an authorized entity, and:

  •  the child is at least six years old;

  •  the child is at least two years old and a member of a racial or ethnic group that exits foster care at a slower pace than other racial or ethnic groups;

  •  the child is:

  •  being adopted with a sibling, or

  •  joining a sibling who has been adopted by the parents or for whom the parents already have permanent managing conservatorship or an equivalent arrangement in another state; or

  •  the child has a verifiable physical, mental, or emotional handicapping condition, as established by an appropriately qualified professional’s diagnosis that states what the condition is and that it is handicapping.

      OR

  •  The child has been determined by the Social Security Administration to meet all the medical or disability requirements with respect to eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Proof of Reasonable Efforts to Find an Adoptive Home

The state has determined that the child cannot or should not be returned to the home. A reasonable effort was made to find an adoptive placement without providing adoption assistance, unless doing so was not in the child’s best interests. When the attempt to find an adoptive placement is unsuccessful, proof of such reasonable efforts may include:

  •  documentation that the child was registered on an adoption registry exchange for more than 60 days;

  •   documentation of any ongoing effort to locate an adoptive family, whether through child welfare entities or government or private organizations; or

  •  the fact that one or more adoptive placements did not result in an adoption.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.804

1711.3 Eligibility Requirements for Reimbursement of Nonrecurring Adoption Expenses

CPS October 2010

To be eligible for the reimbursement of qualified, nonrecurring expenses of adoption:

  •  the child or caregiver must be a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien as described in Texas Administrative Code §700.824; and

  •  the requirements in 1711.1 General Eligibility Requirements must be satisfied.

If the stepparent decides to adopt the child, he or she will not qualify for nonrecurring adoption expense reimbursement.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.820

1711.4 Additional Eligibility Requirements for Monthly Payments and Medicaid Coverage

CPS October 2010

In order for a child to qualify for monthly payments and Medicaid coverage, in addition to qualifying for the reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses, the child must be in an adoptive placement and meet the IV-E requirements for either an applicable or non-applicable child, as appropriate.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.821

To determine whether the child is an applicable child, see 1711.6 Determining Who Is an Applicable Child.

Applicable Children

Once an applicable child has satisfied the general eligibility requirements for adoption assistance and the eligibility requirements for reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses, the child can qualify for IV-E funding by meeting one of the following additional criteria:

  •  The child was in DFPS conservatorship at the time of the adoptive placement; 

  •  The Social Security Administration (SSA) has determined that the child meets all of the medical or disability requirements required for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits;

  •  DFPS determined that the child was eligible for IV-E adoption assistance in a prior adoption; or

  •  Just before adoptive placement of the child and immediately before the termination of a minor parent’s parental rights, the child was living with a minor parent as a result of a court-ordered removal as described in Texas Administrative Code §700.823.

42 U.S.C. §673(a)(2)(A)(ii)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.821(c)

Non-Applicable Children

Once a non-applicable child has satisfied the general eligibility requirements for adoption assistance and the eligibility requirements for reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses, the child can qualify for IV-E funding by meeting one of the following additional criteria:

  •  The child is eligible for SSI benefits

  •  DFPS or another state’s public child welfare agency has already determined that the child was eligible for Title IV-E foster care based on AFDC eligibility.

      See 1531 Additional Eligibility Requirements for Title IV-E Foster Care.

  •  The child was Title IV-E eligible in a prior adoption.

Or

  •  Just before adoptive placement of the child and immediately before the termination of a minor parent’s parental rights, the child was living with a minor parent who was in foster care, and the minor parent was receiving additional IV-E dollars to cover the costs of the child while in foster care.

42 U.S.C. §673(a)(2)(A)(i)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.821(b)

1711.5 Eligibility Requirements for State-Paid Adoption Assistance

CPS October 2010

To be eligible for state-paid adoption assistance, the child must be in an adoptive placement, and:

  •  be ineligible for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance; and

  •  satisfy the requirements in 1711.1 General Eligibility Requirements.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.803

1711.6 Determining Who Is an Applicable Child

CPS October 2010

Federal law provides different Title IV-E eligibility criteria for adoption assistance, depending on whether the child is an applicable child. The federal criteria for applicable children are more lenient than those for non-applicable children and are being phased in over time until all children being adopted are considered to be applicable children. A child meets the definition of applicable child if he or she:

  •  meets the minimum age requirements; or

  •  meets the Time in Care Requirement by having been in DFPS care a minimum of 60 consecutive months; or

  •  meets the sibling requirement by being placed with or joining a sibling who meets the definition of an applicable child.

Minimum Age Requirements

The age requirement relates to the child’s age during the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) during which DFPS first enters into the Adoption Assistance Agreement with the adoptive parents. The changes to Title IV-E adoption assistance will take effect through a phased-in implementation over nine years, starting with FFY 2010. During the first phase-in year, which began October 1, 2009 and ends on September 30, 2010, an applicable child is one who is at least 16 years of age by the end of the FFY, that is, by September 30, 2010. Each FFY the age of applicable children is decreased by two years ending in FFY 2018. The phased-in implementation schedule is below.

Federal Fiscal Year (The federal fiscal year ends on September 30 of the year listed below.)

Minimum applicable age attained by September 30 of the corresponding Federal Fiscal Year

Child’s date of birth must be on or before to be an applicable child on basis of age

2010

16 years of age

09/30/1994

2011

14 years of age

09/30/1997

2012

12 years of age

09/30/2000

2013

10 years of age

09/30/2003

2014

8 years of age

09/30/2006

2015

6 years of age

09/30/2009

2016

4 years of age

09/30/2012

2017

2 years of age

09/30/2015

2018 and thereafter

Any age

N/A

Time in Care Requirement

The term applicable child also includes a child who has been in foster care under the responsibility of DFPS for 60 consecutive months, if the child meets the definition of a child with special needs. The 60-consecutive-month period is any 60 consecutive months that occurred before signing the adoption assistance agreement.

Sibling Requirement

The term applicable child also includes a child whose sibling is an applicable child by virtue of age or time in foster care, provided the siblings are both placed in the same adoptive placement. The sibling who does not qualify as an applicable child by virtue of age or time in care must also meet the definition of a child with special needs.

1711.7 Eligibility Requirements for Extended Adoption Assistance

CPS October 2010

Beginning October 1, 2010, extended adoption assistance benefits will be available to eligible youth to permit them to remain eligible for adoption assistance through the month in which they turn 21 if the following requirements are met:

  •  The youth’s adoptive parents initially enter into an adoption assistance agreement with DFPS following the youth’s 16th birthday and before the youth’s 18th birthday; and

  •  The youth or adoptive family submits documentation sufficient to establish that the youth is:

  •  regularly attending high school or enrolled in a program leading toward a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate,

  •  regularly attending an institution of higher education or a postsecondary vocational or technical program,

  •  participating in a program or activity that promotes or removes barriers to employment,

  •  employed for at least 80 hours a month; or

  •  incapable of performing the activities described above because of a documented medical condition. There is a presumption that a youth is capable of performing the activities and the burden of proof to demonstrate that the youth is incapable is the adoptive family’s responsibility.

See Texas Administrative Code §700.851: How can my child qualify for extended adoption assistance benefits?

No extended adoption assistance benefits are available before October 1, 2010. Youth who turn 18 before that date are categorically excluded from receiving benefits or a fair hearing to appeal the denial of benefits.

Each year, the adoption assistance eligibility specialist verifies that the youth works or attends school. The adopted parent submits documents directly to the adoption assistance eligibility specialist verifying the student’s attendance.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.880(e)

1711.8 When Adoption Assistance Is Not Available (Transferring Permanent Managing Conservatorship)

CPS October 2010

When the court terminates parental rights, adoption is the first option the caseworker considers as a permanent placement for the child. However, if adoption is not an option for the child for reasons outlined in 6683 Ruling Out Family Reunification and Adoption Before Pursuing Permanency Care Assistance, the case should be staffed to see whether the transfer of permanent managing conservatorship (PMC) with the support of permanency care assistance (PCA) is an option for the family. See 6680 Permanency Care Assistance (PCA), 1600 Permanency Care Assistance, and their sub-items.

If the family does not qualify for PCA and the child is not eligible for adoption, the caseworker explains to the family effect of assuming PMC on eligibility for benefits. In the unusual circumstance that PMC is transferred to a caregiver who could adopt the child, the caseworker:

  •  explains to the caregiver that the child will not qualify for adoption assistance if the adopting caregiver is appointed as the child’s permanent managing conservator;

  •  provides the caregiver with the brochure Adoption or Permanent Managing Conservatorship; and

  •  discusses the brochure with the caregiver.

After the caseworker and caregiver discuss the brochure and conservatorship, the caseworker provides the caregiver with a copy of Form 2409 Statement Regarding Ineligibility for Adoption Assistance for the caregiver’s signature.

By signing the statement, the caregiver indicates that:

  •  he or she understands that the child will not qualify for adoption assistance and post-adoption services if the caregiver is appointed as permanent managing conservator; and

  •  he or she waives any right to request adoption assistance and post-adoption services after being appointed permanent managing conservator.

If a caregiver declines to sign Form 2409 Statement Regarding Ineligibility for Adoption Assistance, then the caseworker must complete and sign the bottom of the form, providing information about the reasons that the caregiver gave for declining.

1712 Adoption Assistance Eligibility Requirements for Children Adopted From the Conservatorship of an LCPA

1712.1 Eligibility Requirements

CPS October 2010

A child who is adopted from the conservatorship of a licensed child-placing agency (LCPA) can only qualify for Title IV-E adoption assistance because the state-paid adoption assistance program is authorized only for children residing in foster homes at state or county expense.

Texas Family Code §162.304

Accordingly, to qualify for adoption assistance a child adopted from an LCPA must meet:

  •  the general eligibility requirements explained in 1711.1 General Eligibility Requirements; and

  •  the requirements for reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses explained in 1711.3 Eligibility Requirements for Reimbursement of Nonrecurring Adoption Expenses and, if applicable, the additional eligibility requirements for monthly payments and Medicaid explained in 1711.4 Additional Eligibility Requirements for Monthly Payments and Medicaid Coverage.

In most cases, a child adopted from an LCPA’s conservatorship will not meet the general eligibility requirements, particularly the definition of special needs, unless the child meets the medical or disability requirements for SSI. Then the parents must still establish that the child meets the IV-E eligibility requirements, which is a nearly impossible threshold unless the child is SSI-eligible or is an applicable child.

1712.2 Adoption Subsidy Eligibility Case Record

CPS 96-8

Management Policy

Staff must establish a case record if a child is certified for an adoption subsidy. The record is labeled in the child's adoptive name. A second line on the label includes the adoptive parents' names. The following documents are included in the record:

  •  the child's foster care eligibility case record (see 1515 Foster Care Financial Eligibility Case Record);

  •  the petition to adopt;

  •  the decree of adoption;

  •  Forms 2250, and CAPS Forms 2251-B, 2252-A, 2252-B, 2253, and 2254; and

  •  Form 2251-A, Adoption Assistance Eligibility Documentation.

Cross-reference: See Appendix 1424 for a sample of an adoption subsidy eligibility case folder.

1712.3 International Adoptions

CPS October 2010

Non-Applicable Children

If a non-applicable child was either adopted outside the U.S. or brought to the U.S. for the purpose of being adopted, he or she may qualify for reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses if:

  •  the child or caregiver is a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien as described in Texas Administrative Code §700.824; and

  •  the requirements in 1711.1 General Eligibility Requirements are satisfied.

Applicable Children

By federal law, an applicable child with special needs is ineligible for any adoption assistance benefits if he or she:

  •  was not a U.S. citizen or resident before the adoption; and

  •  was adopted outside the U.S. or brought into the U.S. for the purpose of adoption.

42 U.S.C. §673(a)(7)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.803(d)

1713 Jurisdiction and Responsibility for Determining Eligibility and Activating Benefits

1713.1 Determining Which Children Are Within DFPS Jurisdiction

CPS October 2010

Children Within Jurisdiction of DFPS

DFPS is responsible for determining eligibility and negotiating the adoption assistance agreements for children who are placed for adoption under the following circumstances:

  •  Children who are in the managing conservatorship of DFPS, regardless of the location of the placement

  •  Children who are in the legal care of and placed for adoption by a licensed child-placing agency when the child is placed with a family that resides in Texas

     The child-placing agency need not be licensed in Texas but must be licensed or certified by another state to provide adoption placement services.

  •  Children who:

  •  previously received Title IV-E adoption assistance and whose adoption terminated because of the death of the adoptive parents or termination of their parental rights;

  •  are not in the care of another state’s public child welfare agency; and

  •  have subsequent adoptive parents who reside in Texas at the time of the adoptive placement

  •  Children who:

  •  previously received Texas state adoption assistance and whose adoption terminated because of the death of the adoptive parents or termination of their parental rights;

  •  are not in the care of another state’s public child welfare agency; and

  •  are subsequently to be adopted regardless of the adoptive parents’ state of residence

In addition to the above criteria, DFPS is responsible for authorizing Medicaid coverage for children who reside in Texas and have an adoption assistance agreement with another state’s child welfare agency.

See 1760 Medicaid Coverage, the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance, and Adoption Assistance.

For information on whether a child will receive benefits if a family moves to or lives in another state, see Texas Administrative Code §700.861.

Children Outside Jurisdiction of DFPS

DFPS is not responsible for determining eligibility and providing adoption assistance to special-needs children under the following circumstances:

  •  The child previously received Title IV-E adoption assistance from Texas, but a subsequent adoption is taking place in a state other than Texas.

  •  The child is in the legal care of and placed by a private child-placing agency, and has adoptive parents who reside in another state.

1713.2 Determining Region With Responsibility for a Case

CPS October 2010

Processing Requests for Assistance, Determining Eligibility, and Negotiating Benefits

The following guidelines are used to determine which region is responsible for processing requests for adoption assistance, determining eligibility, and negotiating benefits.

  •  When the child is placed by DFPS or a licensed Texas child-placing agency and the family resides in Texas, the region where managing conservatorship of the child is held processes the initial request for assistance.

  •  If the child is not placed by DFPS or by a licensed Texas child-placing agency, the region of the adoptive parents’ residence processes the request.

  •  If a DFPS employee is seeking to adopt a child from the same region the employee works in, then the adoption assistance case is handled by another region. This coordination can be handled at a program director level.

Maintaining the Case

The following guidelines are used to determine which region is responsible for maintaining the adoption assistance case:

  •  The region of the adoptive parents’ residence maintains the case once eligibility is determined, the adoption assistance agreement is entered into, and payment for nonrecurring adoption expenses has been made.

  •  The region that determined eligibility and entered into the adoption assistance agreement maintains the case when the child is placed for adoption out-of-state.

  •  The region that last managed the case maintains it when the family moves out-of-state.

  •  The region where the family resides maintains the case when DFPS is authorizing Medicaid Only to another state’s adoption assistance recipients.

1714 Program Notification, Application Process, and Responsibility for Cases

1714.1 Informing Families of the Adoption Assistance Program

CPS October 2010

When adoptive placement of a child with special needs is planned, the agency with legal authority to place the child is responsible for all of the following:

  •  Telling families considering adoption of special-needs children about the adoption-assistance program and program requirements

  •  Ensuring that families receive a Form 2250, Adoption Assistance Request

  •  Notifying the adoption assistance unit that the family may or will be requesting adoption assistance

1714.2 Application Process for Adoption Assistance

CPS October 2010

Requests for adoption assistance must be made as early in the placement process as possible so a preliminary determination of eligibility can be made before the adoptive placement agreement is signed. This allows time for benefits to be discussed and negotiated before the actual adoptive placement.

A preliminary determination of eligibility is one in which all of the eligibility requirements are met except that the adoptive placement agreement has not been signed because the child has not yet been placed in the home for the purpose of adoption. The caseworker or agency responsible for placing the child for adoption ensures that the entire adoption assistance packet is complete and provided to the adoption assistance eligibility unit at least 10 working days before the adoptive placement.

Step 1: A family requests adoption assistance and completes supporting documentation.

If a family is applying for adoption assistance, the child’s primary caseworker or the agency working with the family provides the family with the following:

2250 Adoption Assistance Request

2253a Adoption Assistance Worksheet

2253b Adoptive Family Resources

The worker or agency answers questions the family may have, and requests the assistance of the eligibility specialist in answering the questions or completing the documents as necessary.

Step 2: The child’s primary caseworker or agency completes adoption assistance eligibility documentation.

For a child in DFPS conservatorship, the child’s primary caseworker completes the Adoption Assistance Application in IMPACT.

For a child who is in the care of an LCPA, the staff at the agency must complete a hard copy of Form 2251a, Adoption Assistance Eligibility Determination. In addition, the agency must complete Form 2251b, AFDC Eligibility Determination, if the LCPA is relying on AFDC as the basis to establish adoption assistance eligibility.

Step 3: The child’s primary caseworker or agency completes the adoption assistance acket.

For a child in DFPS conservatorship, a complete adoption assistance packet must be sent in by the child’s primary caseworker within five days of completing the Adoption Assistance Application in IMPACT. For a child in the care of an LCPA, the LCPA should send in the entire packet as early in the placement process as possible. The packet must include the following:

  •  Form 2250 Adoption Assistance Request

  •  Form 2251a Adoption Assistance Eligibility determination, if the child is being adopted from an LCPA

  •  Form 2251b, if the child is being adopted from an LCPA and the agency is relying on AFDC to establish eligibility

  •  Form 2253a Adoption Assistance Worksheet

  •  Form 2253b Adoptive Family Resources

  •  Proof of the child’s age

      For additional information on acceptable proof of age, see subsection B of Appendix 1530-F: Categorical Requirements for AFDC Eligibility.

  •  Proof of the child’s U.S. citizenship or verification of alien status when the child is not a citizen of the United States

      For additional information on acceptable proof of citizenship or qualified alien status, see 1530 Foster Care Assistance Eligibility Requirements for Children and Youth in DFPS Conservatorship. If the child is undocumented, there must be documentation of how the caseworker arrived at the conclusion and a description of the steps taken to resolve questions related to the child’s alien status.

  •  Proof of the child’s eligibility for IV-E or state-paid foster assistance sufficient to demonstrate that the child meets the requirements of either Eligibility Requirements for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance or Eligibility Requirements for State-Paid Adoption Assistance, such as one of the following:

  •  SSA determination of eligibility for SSI benefits or that the child meets the SSI medical and disability requirements

  •  Foster care eligibility determination

  •  Proof of a prior adoption

  •  Documentation related to being with minor parent in foster care

  •  Proof of being in DFPS conservatorship

  •  Order establishing that the child is eligible for adoption based on termination of any parental rights to the child

  •  First court order sanctioning the child’s removal

  •  Signed and dated copy of the first petition resulting in the court ordering removal of the child from the home

  •  Proof that the child has special needs;

  •  Documentation of the background checks conducted before the approval of the adoptive home. For homes approved before October 1, 2006, this included the name-based DPS background checks and CPS abuse and neglect checks. For homes approved after that date, the checks include the FBI fingerprint based checks, and the CPS abuse and neglect checks. If the region conducted out-of-state or local law enforcement or abuse and neglect registry checks those may, but need not be, included; and

  •  The home study approving the home for adoption.

Step 4: For DFPS cases, the supervisor approves the complete packet.

The supervisor approves the packet after ensuring the required documentation is included. For children being adopted from the care of an LCPA, the supervisor must also ensure that the Referral for FAD Stage for a Non-DFPS Home is sent to the regional Foster and Adoptive Home Development (FAD) unit at the time the packet is approved. The referral form notifies the FAD unit to create a FAD home in IMPACT for adoption assistance application purposes.

Step 5: The caseworker or agency sends the packet to the Adoption Assistance Eligibility unit.

For children in DFPS conservatorship, this step must be completed no later than five days after the caseworker enters the application into IMPACT. For children in DFPS or LCPA conservatorship, the packet should be sent in as early in the placement process as possible, ideally a minimum of 10 days before the date of the adoptive placement.

Step 6: If the eligibility specialist determines that the child is eligible and an agreement is executed, the caseworker sends a copy of the adoptive placement agreement to the eligibility specialist once it is signed.

Once the adoptive placement is made, the child’s eligibility can be switched to adoption assistance in the month following the placement. The adoption assistance eligibility specialist enters the adoption assistance segment no more then 30 days after adoption placement.

1714.3 Determination of Eligibility

CPS October 2010

Eligibility is determined in the DFPS regions by designated adoption assistance eligibility units. This determination is based upon the information provided to the eligibility specialist by the placing caseworker, data in the automated systems, the adoptive family, and the eligibility requirements. The eligibility specialist uses Form 2251c and Form 2251d and the Regional Eligibility Checklists to evaluate whether all of the eligibility requirements are met. A copy of the appropriate checklist is included in the adoption assistance case record.

1714.4 Responsibilities of the Eligibility Specialist in Entering Into the Initial Adoption Assistance Agreement

CPS October 2010

Step 1: The eligibility specialist logs receipt of the adoption assistance (AA) packet and evaluates the packet for completeness.

The eligibility specialist logs receipt of the adoption assistance application packet from the child’s primary caseworker or the placing agency as soon as it is received into the regional adoption assistance share drive. No more than five workdays from the date the packet is received, the specialist reviews the packet to ensure it is completed, and requests any missing or insufficient documentation from the child’s primary caseworker.

Step 2: The eligibility specialist makes a preliminary eligibility determination.

The eligibility specialist must make a preliminary eligibility determination within five working days of receiving a complete adoption assistance packet.

A preliminary determination of eligibility is one in which all of the eligibility requirements are met except that the adoptive placement has not yet been made. However, even in a situation where the family applies for adoption assistance following an adoptive placement, the eligibility specialist is still required to make an initial assessment of eligibility to determine whether an adoption assistance agreement can be negotiated.

Only following negotiation and execution of an adoption assistance agreement and an adoptive placement agreement can benefits be activated. See 1714.5 Commencement of Benefits.

The eligibility specialist follows the guidance in 1711 Adoption Assistance Eligibility Requirements for Children Adopted From DFPS Conservatorship or 1712 Adoption Assistance Eligibility Requirements for Children Adopted From the Conservatorship of an LCPA and determines the child’s eligibility. Based on that determination, the specialist takes the corresponding actions described below.

Step 2a: The eligibility specialist determined that the child is eligible for reimbursement of nonrecurring expenses only.

If the child is eligible only for the reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses, the eligibility specialist prepares an adoption assistance agreement for this benefit only and executes it with the family. Upon the receipt of proof of qualifying expenses, as described in 1714.7 Reimbursement of Nonrecurring Expenses of Adoption, the eligibility specialist reimburses the family. The eligibility specialist does not proceed with any additional steps in this section.

Step 2b: The eligibility specialist determined that the child is eligible for monthly payments and Medicaid coverage, in addition to being eligible for the reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses.

Upon determining a child is eligible for adoption assistance or that the child will be eligible once the adoptive placement is made, the adoption assistance eligibility specialist notifies the following of the eligibility decision within two working days of making the decision:

  •  The child’s primary caseworker and supervisor or the appropriate staff at the LCPA

  •  The adoptive family

  •  Staff responsible for negotiating adoption assistance benefits

Following this notification, the eligibility specialist proceeds to Step 3.

Step 2c: The eligibility specialist determined that the child is ineligible for adoption assistance benefits.

If the child is determined ineligible for adoption assistance, within two working days of the determination, the adoption assistance eligibility specialist sends the prospective adoptive family a written and dated notification of denial, Form 2253e:

  •  citing each reason for the decision; and

  •  informing the family of their right to appeal.

Copies of the notification are also sent to the child’s caseworker and the placing agency when the placing agency is not DFPS. The case file must contain documentation of the date the denial notice was mailed to the adoptive parents.

See Texas Administrative Code §700.880: What are my rights to appeal a DFPS decision regarding adoption assistance benefits?

If necessary, the eligibility specialist also prepares a fair hearing packet. The eligibility specialist does not proceed to any of the additional steps in this section.

Step 3: The eligibility specialist activates benefits.

Once the eligibility specialist has received both the adoptive placement agreement from the child’s primary caseworker and the adoption assistance agreement from the negotiator, the specialist activates benefits in IMPACT.

Step 4: The eligibility specialist issues Form 2253d, Activation of Adoption Assistance Notice

This form must be sent to the adoptive family so they are aware of the change in benefits and to the child’s primary caseworker so that he or she may close out the file.

1714.5 Commencement of Benefits

CPS October 2010

The following principles must be applied when determining the earliest date adoption assistance benefits can begin:

  •  All eligibility requirements must be met during the month that benefits begin.

  •  The effective date of the agreement is always the first day of the month.

  •  The child cannot receive foster care assistance benefits and adoption assistance benefits for the same month.

  •  When the child is receiving SSI benefits, adoption assistance benefits can begin the month following filing of the petition to adopt.

  •  When eligibility is contingent upon the outcome of a fair hearing, benefits begin as directed in the fair hearing officer’s order in these cases. Benefits can begin no earlier than 12 months before DFPS’s receipt of a completed adoption assistance application.

See Texas Administrative Code §700.846: How is the effective date of the adoption assistance agreement determined?

1714.6 Ongoing Responsibilities of Eligibility Units for the Adoption Assistance Program

CPS October 2010

In addition to the responsibilities of the eligibility specialists in initially entering into an adoption assistance agreement, the specialists have the following ongoing duties:

  •  Distributing Form 2250, Adoption Assistance Request, as well as supporting documents, when requested by a caseworker from DFPS or a licensed child-placing agency (LCPA), or by the adoptive family

  •  Maintaining information in the automated system when there is a change that affects adoption assistance such as amounts, address, or payee changes

  •  Obtaining certifications of continued eligibility every five years or more often as needed

  •  Notifying and requesting other states or U.S. territories to provide Medicaid coverage to Texas adoption assistance recipients residing out-of-state

      See 1760 Medicaid Coverage, The Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance, and Adoption Assistance.

  •  Authorizing Medicaid coverage for children from other states who reside in Texas but receive adoption assistance from another state’s public child welfare agency

  •  Verifying adoption assistance eligibility in subsequent adoptions

  •  Initiating recoupment efforts when overpayments are made

  •  Authorizing supplemental payments when an underpayment has been made

  •  Preparing fair hearing packets

  •  Processing reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses in accordance with 1714.7 Reimbursement of Nonrecurring Expenses of Adoption

  •  Terminating agreements as appropriate

1714.7 Reimbursement of Nonrecurring Expenses of Adoption

CPS July 2015

A family adopting a special-needs child placed for adoption by DFPS or placed in Texas by a child-placing agency (CPA) may be reimbursed for nonrecurring adoption expenses if an adoption assistance agreement is signed before consummation.

Adoptive families may seek up to $1,200 in reimbursement of expenses for reasonable and necessary adoption fees. These may include fees paid to child-placing agencies as well as court costs, attorney fees, and other fees directly related to legal completion of the adoption.

The adoptive family is reimbursed after the adoption is consummated and they have provided DFPS with proof of payment. The family must also establish that the expenses are not reimbursable by another source.

The expense receipts must be submitted for reimbursement to DFPS no later than 18 months after consummation.

For adoption assistance agreements signed before August 1, 2012, the maximum amount an adoptive family can receive as reimbursement for nonrecurring expenses is $1500 per child.

For adoption assistance agreements signed on or after August 1, 2012, the maximum amount an adoptive family can receive as reimbursement for nonrecurring expenses is $1200 per child.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.850

1715 Negotiating Adoption Assistance Agreements and Deferred Adoption Assistance Agreements

CPS June 2014

Adoption assistance agreements are negotiated based upon the child’s special needs. The goal of negotiation is to work with the family to identify how the child’s special need (age, sibling status, or handicapping condition) translates into the family’s need for ongoing assistance, either medical or financial or both.

Eligibility for adoption assistance is based on the needs of the child, not the income of the family. The family’s resources (including income, community resources, and support services), can be taken into consideration when determining the type and amount of assistance, but DFPS does not employ a means test or impose an income eligibility requirement for this determination.

Texas Administrative Code §700.844

The circumstances of the adopting parents must be considered together with the needs of the child when negotiating the adoption assistance agreement. Consideration of the circumstances of the adopting parents has been interpreted by the Administration for Children and Families to pertain to the adopting family’s:

  •  capacity to incorporate the child into their household in relation to their lifestyle;

  •  standard of living and future plans; and

  •  capacity to meet the child’s immediate and future needs, including the child’s educational needs.

This means considering the overall ability of the family to incorporate an individual child into their household. Families with the same incomes or in similar circumstances will not necessarily require identical types or amounts of assistance. Each unique situation may require different amounts of payment.

The negotiation process begins when a special-needs child is considered for adoptive placement with a family and a determination of eligibility or preliminary eligibility has been made. This allows both the family and DFPS to decide if the placement is feasible and in the child’s best interest. Negotiation is best done before adoptive placement but can be done any time during the placement period before consummation of the adoption.

Adoption assistance benefits cannot begin until all eligibility requirements are met, including the requirement of an approved adoptive placement agreement and a signed adoption assistance agreement.

1715.1 Responsibilities of Negotiators for Initial Adoption Assistance Agreement

CPS October 2010

The regional program administrators for CPS are responsible for designating staff to negotiate adoption assistance agreements. When a family has been determined to be eligible but does not yet have an agreement, the negotiators are responsible for:

  •  contacting the family within two days of receiving notice that the family is preliminarily or actually eligible for assistance, in order to make an appointment to discuss adoption assistance benefits and to negotiate the adoption assistance agreement.

      Negotiators meet face-to-face with the family when possible; otherwise contact may be made by telephone. Contact may be made in the adoptive home or the office, whichever is suitable to both parties;

  •  before meeting with the adoptive family, reviewing:

  •  the child’s records to assist in establishing the child’s needs, and

  •  information in the adoptive family’s records including information pertaining to their circumstances, the adoption home study, and adoption assistance worksheets;

  •  determining the appropriate payment ceiling for monthly payments, in accordance with 1715.5 Determining the Adoption Assistance Payment Ceiling and communicating the payment ceiling to the family;

  •  providing the prospective adoptive family with information about the Medicaid program and how to access benefits in Texas and other states, in accordance with 1760 Medicaid Coverage, The Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance, and Adoption Assistance;

  •  providing the prospective adoptive family with information about possible adoption tax credit;

  •  providing the prospective adoptive family with information about the educational requirements described in 1715.6 Education Requirements;

  •  negotiating adoption assistance agreements for new adoptive placements before or close to the time the adoptive placement agreement is signed, in accordance with 1715.3 Considerations During Negotiations.

      Adoption assistance eligibility is lost if the adoption assistance agreement is not negotiated and signed before consummation of the adoption, with very limited exceptions as explained in Texas Administrative Code §700.881;

  •  completing and executing Form 2253C, Adoption Assistance Agreement. The family keeps one copy of the agreement and the original agreement is sent to the eligibility specialist, in addition to providing the notice of any changes to the monthly payment amount as described in 1715.2 Ongoing Responsibilities of Negotiators; and

  •  notifying the child’s primary caseworker and the eligibility specialist by e-mail that the agreement has been executed, so that the caseworker can proceed with making an adoptive placement if one has not been made.

1715.2 Ongoing Responsibilities of Negotiators

CPS October 2010

Adoption assistance negotiators have the following ongoing responsibilities in the adoption assistance program:

  •  Renegotiating existing agreements, including deferred agreements, at the adoptive parents’ request because of changed circumstances, and notifying the adoption assistance eligibility specialist of any changes to the monthly payment amount

  •  Explaining to families the process for accessing medical coverage in Texas and other states, in accordance with 1760 Medicaid Coverage, The Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance, and Adoption Assistance

  •  Providing training on adoption assistance program benefits and application requirements to other DFPS child placement staff, staff of private child-placing agencies, and prospective foster and adoptive parents

  •  Negotiating adoption assistance agreements in accordance with the orders of the fair hearing officer

  •  Providing information for and testifying in any fair hearings as necessary. See 1719.3 Responsibilities of the Adoption Assistance Eligibility Specialist and Negotiator.

1715.3 Considerations During Negotiations

CPS October 2010

The negotiator for adoption assistance benefits and the adoptive parents must take the following factors and guidelines into consideration when discussing and negotiating any adoption assistance payment:

  •  The child’s present and future need for services are considered in relation to the adoptive family’s income, other resources, expenses, circumstances, and plans for the future

      Benefits are intended only to assist in meeting the child’s needs and the adoptive parents’ responsibilities.

  •  Any and all sources of income and support that are specifically designated for the child (such as Retirement, Survivors, Disability Insurance or Veterans Administration benefits) must be applied toward meeting the child’s needs.

      There is not a dollar-for-dollar reduction from the adoption assistance monthly payment based on the amount of the other source of income or support. Such income or support is simply one factor in evaluating the resources available for meeting the child’s needs.

  •  The costs associated with meeting the child’s needs through private sources only when those needs cannot be met through other publicly funded sources

      If the child needs special services not covered by the adoptive parents’ insurance or Medicaid, the adoptive parents must provide information or documentation of actual costs. If no information concerning actual costs is available, the negotiator determines a reasonable estimate.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.844

See also Appendix 1715.3: Negotiation of Adoption Assistance Discussion Guide, Form 2253A Adoption Assistance Worksheet and Form 2253B Adoptive Family Resources.

1715.4 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Payments and Adoption Assistance Payments

CPS October 2010

When a child in DFPS conservatorship is receiving SSI benefits and is placed in an adoptive home, DFPS uses the SSI benefit to subsidize the placement until the petition to adopt is filed or the final order of adoption is entered. If the SSI payment amount is equal to or higher than the adoption assistance payment ceiling, adoption assistance payments are not provided until the child meets the Title IV-E adoption assistance requirements. This usually occurs when the petition to adopt is filed.

By federal policy, a child who is eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance may also receive SSI benefits, if eligible. SSI is based on need, which requires consideration of the adoptive parents’ income and resources.

If the income and resources of the adoptive parents do not negatively affect the child’s SSI eligibility, the Social Security Administration reduces the SSI payment by the amount of the Title IV-E adoption assistance the child receives. Therefore, if a child is receiving both SSI and Title IV-E benefits, the SSI benefit is not deducted from the Title IV-E adoption assistance payment.

The payee for the SSI benefit is responsible for informing the Social Security Administration about the child’s receipt of Title IV-E adoption assistance benefits.

The adoptive parents may elect to receive SSI benefits in lieu of adoption assistance benefits, but the caseworker or negotiator must explain to the adoptive parents that they cannot later claim adoption assistance benefits unless they have a signed adoption assistance agreement before the adoption is consummated.

See Texas Administrative Code §700.845: Can my child get adoption assistance monthly payments in addition to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

1715.5 Determining the Adoption Assistance Payment Ceiling

CPS October 2010

The payment ceiling for monthly payments is based on the child’s authorized service level at the beginning of the adoptive placement and is:

  •  $400 per month for Basic care

  •  $545 per month for Moderate, Specialized, or Intense

See Texas Administrative Code §700.844: How are monthly payment amounts determined?

1715.6 Education Requirements

CPS October 2010

The negotiator explains to the prospective adoptive parents that DFPS may periodically require proof that a child who has attained the minimum age for compulsory school attendance is a full-time elementary or secondary student.

The term full-time elementary or secondary student means a child who is:

  •  enrolled or in the process of enrolling in an institution which provides elementary or secondary education in accordance with Texas law or the law of the state in which the child resides;

  •  instructed in elementary or secondary education at home in accordance with Texas law or the law of the state in which the child resides;

  •  in an independent study elementary or secondary education program administered by a school or school district, in accordance with Texas law or the law of the state in which the child resides; or

  •  incapable of attending school on a full-time basis because of the medical condition of the child, which incapability is supported by regularly updated information.

See Texas Administrative Code §700.860(c): What happens if my child’s or family’s circumstances change?

1716 Deferred Adoption Assistance Agreements

CPS October 2010

A deferred agreement for adoption assistance is a written agreement between the adoptive parents and DFPS to negotiate adoption assistance benefits at a future date should the need arise. A deferred agreement for adoption assistance is used when the family can currently provide for the child, but may require future assistance because of the child’s special needs. Deferred agreements are used when:

  •  the child meets the eligibility requirements for adoption assistance at the time of adoptive placement and filing of the petition to adopt;

  •  the family is able to meet the child’s current needs or there are no current unmet special needs; and

  •  it is anticipated that the child will have needs at a future date and the family is likely to need help with those needs.

Under the terms of a deferred agreement, the child’s eligibility for adoption assistance is already established, and if the family and child require assistance in the future, the family and DFPS will negotiate specific agreements for benefits including Medicaid or monthly financial assistance at that time. The existence of a deferred agreement eliminates the need for a fair hearing in the event that a need arises in the future for adoption assistance.

See:

Texas Administrative Code §700.801(10): What do certain pronouns words and terms in this subchapter mean?

Texas Administrative Code §700.842(c): What happens if my child is determined eligible?

1717 Changes in Circumstances and Periodic Certification of Continued Eligibility

CPS October 2010

Adoptive families are responsible for immediately reporting to the eligibility specialist changes in their circumstances that may affect assistance, including:

  •  any name or address changes;

  •  a change in marital status;

  •  a change in where the child is living;

  •  a change in the child’s legal status;

  •  changes in health insurance coverage for the child; and

  •  any change that may affect eligibility.

Adoptive families may request a change in the amount of the monthly payment when there is a change of circumstances affecting the adopted child’s current need or the family’s ability to meet those needs. The request must be made in writing to the adoption assistance eligibility specialist.

Any request for an increase in the monthly payment amount is subject to the requirements and limitations described in:

1715.5 Determining the Adoption Assistance Payment Ceiling

1715.3 Considerations During Negotiations

Upon receipt of a request for a change in the monthly payment, the adoption assistance benefits negotiator contacts the adoptive parents within 10 working days of receiving the request to negotiate a new payment amount. Any negotiated increases are effective no earlier than the first of the following month after a new agreement is signed.

After the negotiations, the negotiator is responsible for notifying the eligibility specialist of any changes. The adoption assistance eligibility specialist is responsible for updating information reported as a change within five days of receipt of the changed information.

See Texas Administrative Code §700.860: What if my child’s or family’s circumstances change?

1717.1 Recertification of Eligibility

CPS October 2010

Recertification of Adoption Assistance Eligibility

Certification of continued eligibility is required at least every five years for children under the age of 18 years old. No less than 90 days before the five-year certification of continued eligibility date, the eligibility specialist mails to the adoptive family:

  • Form 2254A Adoption Assistance Recertification

  • Form 2254B Certification of Continued Eligibility

The adoption assistance eligibility specialist makes three attempts if necessary to secure the required documentation for the adoptive parent, with the last one being a certified letter.

Recertification of Extended Adoption Assistance Eligibility

For children who are eligible for extended adoption assistance, as described in 1711.7 Eligibility Requirements for Extended Adoption Assistance, certification of continued eligibility is required a month before the youth’s 18th birthday. Eligibility for extended benefits is determined annually until age 20 (the determination at age 20 covers the period until the youth’s 21st birthday).

Each year, on the youth’s 18th, 19th and 20th birthdays, as applicable, the eligibility specialist makes three attempts if necessary to obtain the necessary recertification documentation:

The eligibility specialist uses the following forms:

  • Form 2254A Adoption Assistance Recertification

  • Form 2254B Certification of Continued Eligibility

The first attempt is made 60 days before the youth’s birthday. The second attempt is made 30 days before the youth’s birthday. The third attempt is made on the youth’s birthday and is by certified letter. If the necessary documentation is not received within 30 days of the youth’s birthday, the eligibility for extended benefits is terminated and cannot be restored.

When recertifying, the adoptive family must provide sufficient documentation to demonstrate that the youth who is the subject of the agreement continues to meet the educational or work-related requirements to be eligible for extended adoption assistance. See 1711.7 Eligibility Requirements for Extended Adoption Assistance.

The adoptive parent must provide sufficient documentation to meet the education- or work-related requirements when recertifying adoption assistance, if the assistance is extended passed the youth’s 18th birthday. The adoptive parent submits documents directly to the adoption assistance eligibility specialist.

See Texas Administrative Code §700.851: How can my child qualify for extended adoption assistance benefits?

1717.2 Adoptive Parents Die or Their Parental Rights Are Terminated

CPS October 2010

Adoption assistance can be resumed in a subsequent adoption if the adoptive parents die or their rights are terminated by the court if both of the following conditions are met before finalization of the subsequent adoption:

  •  The child is determined to have special needs, as described in 1711.2 Determining Whether a Child Has Special Needs.

  •  A new adoption assistance agreement is signed before consummation of the subsequent adoption.

The subsequent adoption must occur in accordance with state law. It is not necessary for the child to be placed for adoption by a licensed or certified child-placing agency. If the child was eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance, the adoptive parents must be residents of Texas; otherwise, they are referred to their resident state’s IV-E agency for assistance. If the child was eligible for state adoption assistance, it does not matter where the subsequent adoptive parents reside because DFPS resumes the assistance if the above conditions are met.

See Texas Administrative Code §700.863: Does a child remain eligible for benefits in a subsequent adoption?

1718 Benefits: Termination and Resumption

1718.1 Termination of Benefits

CPS June 2014

How long the Agreement is Effective

The agreement is effective through the end of the month during which the child turns 18, unless the agreement is terminated based on circumstances listed below or the child qualifies for extended adoption assistance.

See:

Texas Administrative Code §700.847 When does the adoption assistance agreement end?

Texas Administrative Code §700.848 When can the adoption assistance agreement be terminated before it expires?

Termination of the Agreement

The agreement and benefits can be terminated when any of the following occurs:

  •  Adoptive placement is ended before consummation of the adoption.

  •  The child was mistakenly determined eligible.

  •  The child is under age 18 and the adoptive parents are no longer providing any support to the child.

  •  The child becomes an emancipated minor.

  •  The child or adoptive parent dies.

  •  The adoptive parents request benefits be terminated or suspended.

  •  The adoptive parents are receiving benefits for the child after the 18th birthday and the child no longer meets the work or education eligibility criteria for extended adoption assistance benefits.

Continued Support of the Child

When the child moves out of or leaves the adoptive parents’ home, the adoptive parents must report the change and provide evidence of their continued, routine, and ongoing financial support of the child.

If the Child Returns to Substitute Care

If the child returns to substitute care and the family is receiving adoption assistance benefits, the Adoption Assistance payments are to continue if:

  •  the adoptive family is still providing support for the child; and

  •  the adoptive parent’s rights have not been terminated.

The adoption assistance eligibility specialist (AAES) contacts the Federal/State Support adoption assistance program specialist for assistance when a child returns to substitute care. The adoption assistance program specialist will provide guidance on how to proceed with the adoption assistance payments when the adoptive parent is continuing to provide support for the child.

1718.2 Recouping an Overpayment of Adoption Assistance

CPS June 2012

When an adoptive parent receives an overpayment of an adoption subsidy, the overpaid funds must be recouped.

Overpayment may occur because of the following:

  •  The adoptive placement terminates before the adoption is consummated

  •  The child is under the age of 18 and the adoptive parents are no longer legally responsible for the child

  •  The adoptive parents no longer provide support to the child

  •  The child dies

  •  The child was mistakenly determined to be as eligible for benefits

1718.21 Standard Cases – Recouping an Adoption Subsidy in 30 Days

CPS June 2012

When an adoption subsidy has been overpaid, the adoption assistance eligibility specialist for the region discusses the case with his or her supervisor.

If the eligibility specialist and supervisor are not sure whether recoupment is needed, the specialist consults by email with the adoption assistance program specialist for the DFPS state office.

The eligibility specialist includes in the email to the program specialist, the:

  •  child's name;

  •  child's personal identification number; and

  •  dates that the child did not live in the adoptive home.

Required Consultation

The eligibility specialist and supervisor must consult with the program specialist before processing a recoupment when:

  •  the overpayment exceeds six months;

  •  the overpayment exceeds $50,000; or

  •  fraud is suspected.

Standard Recoupment Process

1.   The adoption assistance program specialist for the DFPS state office sends Form 8102-AA Request for Payment to DFPS to the regional eligibility specialist.

      The form provides the adoptive parent with details about the recoupment, such as the invoice number, date of service, original warrant date, original warrant amount, and total amount of the overpayment.

2.   The regional eligibility specialist sends the form to the regional operation support administrator (ROSA), who then completes and signs Form 8103a-AA Overpayment Letter.

      The letter explains to the adoptive parent when and how the overpayment occurred, when the payment is due to DFPS (30 days from the date on the letter), and where to send the payment.

3.   The ROSA mails to the adoptive parent:

  •  Form 8103a-AA Overpayment Letter, explaining that the subsidy must be repaid; and

  •  Form 8102-AA Request for Payment to DFPS, providing the details of the overpayment and recoupment.

4.   The adoptive parent:

  •  completes Form 8102-AA; and

  •  sends a copy of the form with each payment to the DFPS address provided in the letter.

5.   The ROSA sends a copy of Form 8103a-AA Overpayment Letter and Form 8102-AA Request for Payment to DFPS to:

  •  the DFPS ACCOUNTING FORM 8102 email box; and

  •  the adoption assistance program specialist.

Handling Late Payments

On the 30th day after the date on Form 8103a-AA Overpayment Letter, the DFPS Accounting office:

  •  sends a second letter to the adoptive parent, this time by certified mail; and

  •  notifies the ROSA by email.

If the adoptive parent contacts the ROSA on or after the 30th day from the date on Form 8103a-AA Overpayment Letter, the ROSA:

  •  refers the adoptive parent to the DFPS Accounting Office to discuss a repayment plan; or

  •  notifies the DFPS Accounting Office, if a repayment plan has been proposed by the adoptive parent.

If the adoptive parent fails to respond to the second letter within 30 days, the DFPS Accounting Office refers the case to the Office of the Attorney General of Texas.

1718.22 Hardship Cases – Recouping an Adoption Subsidy in Any Dollar Amount

CPS June 2012

If an adoptive parent contacts the regional operation support administrator (ROSA) within 30 days from the date on Form 8103a-AA Overpayment Letter to explain that he or she cannot repay the subsidy in full by the due date, the ROSA offers the parent a repayment plan, as follows.

The amount of the overpayment determines which DFPS personnel must approve the repayment plan.

To begin the process, the ROSA asks the adoptive parent to:

  •  explain in writing (by mail or email) why the parent cannot repay the entire dollar amount by the due date; and

  •  send the letter or email to the ROSA by the tenth business day from the date that the parent first contacted the specialist about repayment.

When the ROSA receives the letter explaining the adoptive parent's inability to pay by the due date, the ROSA:

  •  discusses a payment plan with the parent; and

  •  completes and signs Form 8103g-AA Overpayment Approval Letter, which explains the details of the payment plan as discussed with the adoptive parent.

The ROSA then sends the following to the adoptive parent by certified mail:

  •  The original Form 8103g-AA Overpayment Approval Letter;

  •  Form 8103h-AA Provider Repayment Plan; and

  •  A copy of Form 8102-AA Request for Payment to DFPS.

The adoptive parent:

  •  signs Form 8103h-AA Provider Repayment Plan; and

  •   returns it to the ROSA.

When the ROSA receives the Form 8103h-AA Provider Repayment Plan signed by the adoptive parent, the ROSA:

  •  mails the original and a copy of Form 8102-AA Request for Payment to DFPS to the DFPS Accounting Office; and

  •  sends a copy of Form 8102-AA by email to the adoption assistance program specialist for the DFPS state office.

1718.23 Extreme Hardship Cases – Recouping an Adoption Subsidy in More Than 12 Months (Requires State Office Approval)

CPS June 2012

If an adoptive parent explains to the regional operation support administrator (ROSA) in writing why he or she cannot repay an adoption subsidy within 12 months, the ROSA informs the parent that:

  •  the maximum repayment plan is 24 months;

  •  a plan that exceeds 12 months must be approved by the DFPS state office;

  •  and there is no guarantee that approval will be obtained.

If the adoptive parent agrees to a repayment plan that exceeds 12 months but does not exceed 24 months, the ROSA:

  •  forwards the details of the repayment plan (the total amount to be recouped and the timeframe for payment) to the division administrator of the DFPS Federal and State Support Unit; and

  •  notifies the adoptive parent that the plan has been forwarded for approval.

The division administrator:

  •  processes the request for a payment plan; and

  •  obtains the required approval.

Plan Is Approved

If the repayment plan is approved, staff at the DFPS state office:

  •  obtain Form 8103d-AA Repayment Plan Approval Letter from the division administrator (the sole source for the form); and

  •  send it to the parent to obtain the parent's signature of approval.

Plan Is Not Approved

If the repayment plan is not approved, the division administrator notifies the parent.

1719 Fair Hearings Regarding Adoption Assistance Decisions

1719.1 Appealing Decisions

CPS October 2010

An adoptive parent has a right to request a fair hearing whenever adoption assistance benefits are denied, delayed, suspended, reduced, or terminated. The request must be filed in writing within 90 days following the decision being appealed. A fair hearing request is also available when the processing of a request for adoption assistance is unreasonably delayed.

See Texas Administrative Code §700.880: What are my rights to appeal a DFPS decision regarding adoption assistance benefits?

1719.2 An Agreement for Adoption Assistance Was Not Signed Before an Adoption’s Consummation

CPS October 2010

When circumstances exist that excuse the adoptive parent’s failure to request assistance or to sign an adoption assistance agreement before adoption, an agreement can still be signed following consummation if ordered in writing by a fair hearing officer.

See Texas Administrative Code §700.881: Can my child still get benefits if I did not sign an adoption assistance agreement before the adoption?

1719.3 Responsibilities of the Adoption Assistance Eligibility Specialist and Negotiator

CPS October 2010

Role of the Eligibility Specialist

The eligibility specialist is responsible for informing adoptive parents of their right to a fair hearing. While the adoptive parents are responsible for providing supporting documentation and proving their child’s eligibility, the eligibility specialist must explain to the parents what information or documentation is needed at the hearing.

The eligibility specialist must prepare a fair hearing package for submittal to the Office of General Counsel, E-611, using Form 4800 Petition for Fair Hearing, and sending all required attachments.

Role of the Negotiator

If the adoptive parents request a fair hearing during the negotiation of benefits, the negotiator for adoption assistance is responsible for:

  •  preparing a written report summarizing the dispute over the amount of assistance and the efforts taken to resolve it; and

  •  providing documentation of the process and results of the discussion and negotiation with the adoptive parents, including any pertinent notes or recordings.

In such circumstances, the benefits negotiator must be prepared to participate and testify in the fair hearing.

Right to Appeal

 There is no right to appeal a DFPS decision that provides adoptive parents with a maximum allowable monthly payment.

See Texas Administrative Code §700.880: What are my rights to appeal a DFPS decision regarding adoption assistance benefits?

1730 Enhanced Adoption Assistance

CPS November 2011

Enhanced Adoption Assistance is intended to reduce financial barriers to adopting certain children who would otherwise:

  •  age out of foster care without an adoptive home; and

  •  have been determined by DFPS to likely remain in paid foster care until age 18.

This is not a third tier of adoption assistance for all children who have high levels of care, many of whom would have been or will be adopted without benefit of the Enhanced Adoption Assistance.

A prospective adoptive parent who is willing to adopt the child without the enhanced assistance is not eligible for the enhanced benefit.

1731 Definition of Enhanced Adoption Assistance

CPS November 2011

Enhanced Adoption Assistance is a monthly amount that is greater than the ceiling amount for the regular adoption assistance described in DFPS Rule §700.844. The maximum monthly payment amount that can be paid under an adoption assistance agreement on behalf of a child who qualifies for Enhanced Adoption Assistance is based on the DFPS foster care rate in effect on the date the adoption assistance agreement is signed, and:

  •  is the minimum amount required to be paid to a foster parent for a child assigned the same service level as the child who is the subject of the adoption assistance agreement (whether an authorized current service level or one in effect before placement), which is sometimes referred to as the pass through amount; and

  •  does not include any amount that a child-placing agency is entitled to retain under the foster care rates.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.806

1732 Eligibility Requirements for Enhanced Adoption Assistance

CPS November 2011

For a child to be eligible for Enhanced Adoption Assistance, the child must meet the requirements for regular adoption assistance in accordance with 1711 Adoption Assistance Eligibility Requirements for Children Adopted From DFPS Conservatorship. In addition, the child must also meet each of the eligibility criteria in DFPS Rules at 40 TAC §700.807 as described below.

Criteria the Adoptive or Prospective Adoptive Parent Must Meet

Enhanced adoption assistance is available to an adoptive or prospective adoptive parent who:

  •  enters into an initial adoption assistance agreement for a child with special needs on or after January 1, 2009; and

  •  is an approved adoptive placement, if the child also meets each of the following criteria immediately before the signing of the adoptive placement agreement.

Criteria the Child Must Meet

The child must be in the managing conservatorship of DFPS and all parental rights to the child have been terminated for at least 24 months.

The child must have an authorized service level of specialized or intense or the child had such an authorized service level immediately before being placed in a facility or home operated or regulated by another state agency.

The child must be living in:

  •  a foster care home or other residential child-care operation that is regulated by the DFPS Child Care Licensing Division and is approved under Licensing minimum standards to provide treatment services; or

  •  a facility or home operated or regulated by another state agency in this state or in another state that provides comparable treatment services.

The child must have not been adopted despite extensive and ongoing local and national adoption recruitment efforts by DFPS. These efforts must include:

  •  considering families who initially appear able to meet the child’s needs and express an interest in adopting the child; and

  •  following up with families, and either pursuing or ruling out adoption.

The selected prospective adoptive parent must only be willing to adopt the child if enhanced adoption assistance is available.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.807

Form 2425, Documentation for Enhanced Adoption Assistance, provides prompts regarding the information needed to document the child’s eligibility. Form 2425 and related documents (for example, a copy of the child’s authorized service level and the orders terminating the rights of the child’s parents) must be included in the Enhanced Adoption Assistance request to verify the child’s eligibility.

Local and National Recruitment Efforts Related to Eligibility Criteria

Adoption staff must provide specific and detailed information about the efforts that have been made. This includes the nature of the recruitment efforts, dates, and information about the families who expressed interest in adoption.

Some recruitment efforts must also be recent. If extensive local and national recruitment efforts were not made during the several months preceding the Enhanced Adoption Assistance request, then the eligibility criterion would not be met even if such efforts were made in past years.

Documentation of the recruitment efforts should be provided when possible, such as copies of the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange maintenance pages, e-mail broadcasts, and e-mails in which CPS staff were notified that a family declined to proceed with adoption.

Adoption staff must follow-up with interested families that appeared able to meet the child’s needs and provide documentation of the outcomes. If a family declined to proceed with adoption, staff must state the reasons the family gave for their decision. If a family was considered but ruled out, then staff must explain the reasons that the family was not appropriate.

1733 Proceeding With Adoptive Placements in a Timely Manner

CPS November 2011

There may be cases in which a prospective adoptive parent informs adoption staff that he or she wishes to delay adoptive placement until a child meets the eligibility criteria for Enhanced Adoption Assistance. Staff must not delay adoptive placement for the purpose of qualifying a child for the Enhanced Adoption Assistance. Staff must make every effort to achieve permanency in a timely manner.

Consequently, when parental rights to a child are terminated and a person has informed DFPS of his or her intent to adopt the child, staff must ensure that efforts are made to complete the adoptive placement within a reasonable time frame.

If staff assess that the prospective adoptive parent is attempting to delay adoptive placement until the child is eligible for Enhanced Adoption Assistance, this issue should be discussed with the supervisor and program director. A plan to move forward with permanency should be made. The plan should include staff discussing the issue with the prospective adoptive parent and trying to proceed with making the adoptive placement using regular adoption assistance. If the prospective adoptive parent continues to delay and does not make efforts to complete the adoption, staff must pursue a different adoptive placement through extensive recruitment efforts, such as:

  •  registration of the child on the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE) and for other activities such as Heart Gallery events;

  •  distribution of child-specific e-mail broadcasts; and

  •  registration on national adoption registries.

For information about local and national recruitment efforts, see 1732 Eligibility Requirements for Enhanced Adoption Assistance.

For information about registering children on TARE, see:

6930 Selecting an Adoptive Home

6980 Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE)

1734 Approval Process for Enhanced Adoption Assistance

CPS November 2011

Regional staff may use the same adoption assistance (AA) process for Enhanced Adoption Assistance as they do for regular adoption assistance.

Exception

When regional adoption staff believe that a child meets the eligibility criteria for Enhanced Adoption Assistance, they must obtain approval from state office before any negotiations with the family. Without first obtaining approval from state office, staff may not suggest to or otherwise assure families that a child will receive Enhanced Adoption Assistance or begin negotiations for Enhanced Adoption Assistance.

1734.1 Regional Approval Process

CPS November 2011

The prospective adoptive family is responsible for completing and sending Form 2250, Adoption Assistance Request, and Form 2421, Enhanced Adoption Assistance Request Form, to the adoption assistance eligibility unit.

The child-placement worker or agency responsible for placing the child for adoption is responsible for completing and submitting the adoption assistance application. The child-placement worker or agency responsible for placing the child then completes the adoption assistance packet as outlined in 1714 Program Notification, Application Process, and Responsibility for Cases.

The adoption assistance eligibility specialist reviews the application package to determine whether it is complete and contains all required documentation within three days of receipt. If the application is incomplete, the eligibility specialist immediately notifies the child-placement worker and prospective adoptive family in writing of the additional required information or documentation.

Eligibility specialists have five working days to predetermine eligibility after receipt of a complete adoption assistance package.

After the eligibility specialist reviews the packet for a predetermination of eligibility and the regional approvers decide to recommend the child for Enhanced Adoption Assistance, approval from state office must be obtained before negotiation.

1734.2 State Office Approval Process

CPS November 2011

To request approval from state office, the requestor submits:

  •  Form 2422 Enhanced Adoption Assistance Cover Memo;

  •  Form 2425 Documentation for Enhanced Adoption Assistance; and

  •  related documents.

Each region may decide whether the requestor is the eligibility specialist or the adoption assistance (AA) negotiator. Form 2422 requires the signatures and approval of each of the following:

  •  The requestor (eligibility specialist or AA negotiator)

  •  The child’s caseworker

  •  The child’s supervisor

  •  The child’s program director

State office processes requests for Enhanced Adoption Assistance within 10 business days. If the submitted packet is incomplete, then additional time may be required.

Upon completion of the review, state office sends the regional director and approvers an approval or denial memorandum by e-mail.

1734.3 Approvals and Notification to Family

CPS November 2011

If state office approval is granted, the child’s caseworker sends a letter to the prospective adoptive parents confirming that they are the appropriate prospective adoptive placement for the child and adoption assistance negotiation may begin.

1734.4 Summary of Forms

CPS November 2011

Form

How the Form Is Used

Enhanced Adoption Assistance Request Form, Form 2421

Given to parents to apply for Enhanced Adoption Assistance

Enhanced Adoption Assistance Cover Memo, Form 2422

Form used when sending a request for approval by state office for enhanced adoption assistance

Documentation for Enhanced Adoption Assistance, Form 2425

Completed by caseworkers when recommending Enhanced Adoption Assistance

Enhanced Adoption Assistance Denial Letter, Form 2423

Dated and issued when denying a request for enhanced adoption assistance

1735 Negotiation for Enhanced Adoption Assistance and Placement

CPS November 2011

Negotiation for Enhanced Adoption Assistance may begin only after approval from state office is obtained. State office indicates in the approval memorandum the maximum amount that can be negotiated. See 1731 Definition of Enhanced Adoption Assistance regarding ceiling amounts. Negotiation for Enhanced Adoption Assistance should occur before adoptive placement and in accordance with 1715 Negotiating Adoption Assistance Agreements and Deferred Adoption Assistance Agreements. Completing adoptive placement before state office approval or before negotiation of Enhanced Adoption Assistance will cause the child to be ineligible for Enhanced Adoption Assistance.

Within five business days of the negotiations, regional staff must inform the adoption program specialist at state office of the negotiated amount.

1736 Authorization of Payments for Enhanced Adoption Assistance

CPS November 2011

As with regular adoption assistance, upon receipt of the signed Enhanced Adoption Assistance agreement, the adoption assistance eligibility specialist records and authorizes all adoption assistance payments in the automated system.

Eligibility specialists should only enter an enhanced rate if they have received a copy of the approval memorandum from state office approving enhanced adoption assistance.

1737 Denials of Enhanced Adoption Assistance

CPS November 2011

If state office denies Enhanced Adoption Assistance, then the regional staff sends the prospective adoptive parents Form 2423, Enhanced Adoption Assistance Denial Letter, citing the reason for the decision and informing the family of their right to appeal. Copies are sent to the child’s caseworker and the placing agency when the placing agency is not DFPS. The case file must contain a copy of the denial letter.

1738 Deferred Agreements for Enhanced Adoption Assistance

CPS November 2011

Regional staff must confer with state office before completing any deferred agreements for Enhanced Adoption Assistance.

See also:

1714.5 Commencement of Benefits

1717 Changes in Circumstances and Periodic Certification of Continued Eligibility

1718 Benefits: Termination and Resumption

1739 Appeals and Fair Hearings

CPS November 2011

The rules for appealing a DFPS decision on Enhanced Adoption Assistance are the same as those applicable to regular adoption assistance, except for the rules described below.

DFPS rules provide that a prospective adoptive parent may appeal a denial of Enhanced Adoption Assistance only if:

  •  the child qualifies as a child with special needs;

  •  the child meets all eligibility criteria in §700.807 (1)-(3) described below.

Criteria the Child Must Meet

The child must be in the managing conservatorship of DFPS and all parental rights to the child have been terminated for at least 24 months.

The child must have an authorized service level of specialized or intense or the child had such an authorized service level immediately before being placed in a facility or home operated or regulated by another state agency.

The child is living in:

  •  a foster care home or other residential child-care operation that is regulated by the DFPS Child Care Licensing Division and is approved under Licensing minimum standards to provide treatment services; or

  •  a facility or home operated or regulated by another state agency in this state or in another state that provides comparable treatment services.

DFPS must have determined that the person is the appropriate prospective adoptive placement for the child.

DFPS Rule, 40 TAC §700.880 (a-d)

See also 1719.3 Responsibilities of the Adoption Assistance Eligibility Specialist and Negotiator.

1760 Medicaid Coverage, The Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance, and Adoption Assistance

CPS October 2010

Adoption Assistance and Medicaid Coverage

Medical assistance is provided through the Medicaid program. This program assists with the child’s:

  •  medical and dental care;

  •  eye care;

  •  durable medical equipment and supplies;

  •  psychiatric and behavioral health care; and

  •  medical transportation.

Medicaid coverage is provided as an adoption assistance benefit when the child is eligible for either Title IV-E or state adoption assistance. Coverage is not provided when the child is only eligible for nonrecurring adoption assistance.

Medicaid Coverage for Children Placed or Moved Out of State

Under federal law, children receiving Title IV-E adoption assistance are entitled to receive Medicaid coverage from the state or territory of residence no matter which state negotiated the adoption assistance agreement. Many states, Texas included, also provide medical assistance to children from other states and U.S. territories that receive state adoption assistance.

Procedures developed under the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA) are used to notify another state or territory that a Texas child is moving or residing there and to request activation of Medicaid coverage. See 1571 The Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance and its Impact on Adoption Assistance.

If the state or territory does not provide coverage to state adoption assistance recipients, Texas continues to provide Medicaid coverage. The coverage can be used only with providers enrolled in the Texas Medicaid program.

See Texas Administrative Code §700.861: Will my child receive benefits if I move to or live in another state?

1761 The Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance and its Impact on Adoption Assistance

CPS October 2010

The Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA) is a binding agreement involving member states and U. S. territories to facilitate provision of Medicaid coverage to each other’s Title IV-E adoption assistance recipients when the child lives in the resident state rather than the adoption assistance state.

ICAMA also contains provisions for member states and the territories to provide Medicaid coverage to other member states’ adoption assistance recipients who are eligible for non-Title IV-E Medicaid coverage under a Medicaid option for adoption assistance.

Not all member states provide coverage. By state law, Texas is a member of ICAMA and provides coverage regardless of the sending state’s policy.

Communication Between Members

Parties to the ICAMA use standardized forms and procedures to communicate between and among states and territories to facilitate provision of medical assistance to adoption assistance recipients. A compact administrator is designated in each state as well as deputy compact administrators. Administrators are responsible for receiving and coordinating requests for compact services. In Texas, the ICAMA is staffed in the Child Protective Services Division in state office, mail code Y-937 under the Federal/State Support Unit.

Requests

Requests for compact services from other states are normally directed to the DFPS deputy compact administrator Y-937. The requests are routed to the appropriate regional compact coordinator upon receipt. When the child is placed by a public child welfare agency, the state from which the child is placed is responsible for determining the child’s eligibility for adoption assistance and providing documentation of eligibility to Texas.

1762 Procedures of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance

CPS October 2010

The following procedures are followed when the eligibility specialist for adoption assistance receives a request for interstate compact services for a child from another state who is placed or being moved to Texas and who is eligible for Title IV-E or state-paid adoption assistance. The eligibility specialist:

  •  contacts the adoptive family to get the information needed to create an adoption assistance case as Medicaid Only, in the automated IMPACT system. This task includes creating a Foster and Adoptive Home Development (FAD) home, a Case-Related Special Request, and necessary information to record the placement. The eligibility specialist contacts the family within five working days of receipt of the request.

  •  determines when the child last had Medicaid coverage from another state to ensure that Medicaid coverage from Texas does not overlap or lapse. This information is usually noted on the ICAMA 6.01 form completed by the sending state.

      Texas Medicaid coverage can begin the day after coverage in the other state ends. Coverage ends in accordance with the adoption assistance agreement or when the family moves out of Texas.

  •  authorizes the appropriate Medicaid Only coverage in the automated system as of the first day the child was eligible and was not covered by another state’s program. If the child is a Title IV-E recipient of adoption assistance, Title IV-E Medicaid Only (ICAMA) is authorized in the automated system. If the child is not eligible for Title IV-E, State Adoption Assistance Medicaid Only (ICAMA) is recorded.

  •  report any third-party medical resources to the Texas Department of Health, Third-Party Resources, 1100 West 49th, Austin, TX 78756-3171 on Form 1039.

  •  completes and sends Form 6.03, Report of Change in Child/Family Status to notify the adoption assistance state of the effective date of Texas Medicaid coverage.

1763 Procedures Regarding Children Eligible for Adoption Assistance Who Are Placed or Moved Out-of-State

CPS October 2010

When a Texas Title IV-E recipient of adoption assistance is placed in or moves to another state, the eligibility specialist for adoption assistance must:

  •  inform the child’s family that Texas will terminate any active Medicaid coverage so that the other state can begin coverage, and that it is the family’s responsibility to keep both Texas and the other state informed as to their current residence address.

  •  close out the child’s Medicaid coverage, if any, and enter Title IV-E Financial Assistance Only on the automated IMPACT system or, if the child does not receive a monthly money payment, close out the Title IV-E adoption assistance.

       If the nonrecurring adoption assistance payment has yet to be paid, the nonrecurring assistance must be kept open on the automated system until paid.

  •  request interstate compact and Medicaid services by completing and signing ICAMA Form 6.01, Notice of Medicaid Eligibility/Case Activation, and attaching a copy of the current adoption assistance agreement. The form and attachments are then sent to the child’s new state of residence in care of the designated state agency contact. A copy of the form is given to the adoptive parents and a copy is kept for the case record.

  •  complete ICAMA Form 6.02, Notice of Action, and give or mail the original to the adoptive family. A copy is filed in the case record.

  •  immediately report any changes to the child’s eligibility status, family status, placement or residence to the resident state on ICAMA Form 6.03, Report of Change in Child/Family Status. A copy is sent to the adoptive parents, and a copy is kept in the case record.

  •  should the child later move to another state, immediately report the move to the last resident state and then complete a new Form 6.01, Notice of Medicaid Eligibility/Case Activation. The specialist again attaches a copy of the adoption assistance agreement to the form and mails it to the state agency contact in the new state of residence.

To obtain the name and address of out-of-state agencies administering the ICAMA and adoption assistance programs, the specialist may contact the Texas ICAMA unit in state office (mail code Y-934).

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