Special Needs Financial Assistance or Subsidy
A child may be eligible for a subsidy through the State of Florida if the child qualifies as a "special needs child" under §409.166 of the Florida Statutes. Preliminarily, this must be a child whose permanent custody has been awarded to the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families (DCF) or to a licensed child-placing agency.
The criteria that may qualify a child as a "special needs child" under §409.166, Florida Statutes include if the child is either: eight years of age or older; developmentally disabled; physically or emotionally handicapped; of black or racially mixed parentage; or a member of a sibling group of any age, provided two or more members of a sibling group remain together for purposes of adoption. There also may be other qualifying criteria (including the potential that a qualifying developmental, physical, or emotional condition may not manifest until later in childhood).
Under Florida law, "adoption assistance" means financial assistance and services provided to a child and to the child’s adoptive family. This may include such things as a monthly payment (currently up to $417/month), known as a maintenance subsidy, medical assistance, Medicaid assistance, and reimbursement of up to $1,000 in non-recurring expenses associated with the adoption. In the case of a child adopted from DCF, the subsidy also may include a tuition exemption at a Florida-based postsecondary career program, Florida-based community college, or Florida-based state university. Post-adoption services, over and above the monthly subsidy, and designed to safeguard the adoptive placement, also may be available.
SECURING THE ADOPTION ASSISTANCE PRIOR TO THE ADOPTION FINALIZATION HEARING IS CRITICAL. If you do not apply timely for and obtain such adoption assistance prior to finalization of the adoption, you may not be eligible to apply for adoption assistance post-finalization. In addition, timely application for and approval of adoption assistance pre-finalization ensures that an increase to the adoption assistance may be sought on the child’s behalf for those health care conditions which may not manifest until the child is older, post-adoption - one example being the baby born drug-exposed in-utero.
Only the State of Florida can determine if a child is eligible for adoption assistance from the State of Florida (subject also to appeal). And, the amount of other benefits already in place for a child, if any, such as SSI, may be affected if adoption assistance is awarded.
If you wish to pursue adoption assistance, a timely application for adoption assistance should be made to the State of Florida, Department of Children and Family Services if the adoptive parents reside in Florida or if the child was in foster care in Florida. If you reside outside the State of Florida, your home state may provide similar adoption assistance.
If you have questions about subsidy, please contact Jeanne T. Tate, P.A. (firstname.lastname@example.org or 813.258.3355). Jeanne has focused her practice on adoption law for over 30 years and has helped complete adoptions for thousands of families.