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New Jersey Department of Children and Families Policy Manual

 

Manual:

CP&P

Child Protection and Permanency

Effective Date:

10-21-2013

Volume:

IV

Out of Home Placement

Chapter:

C

Adoption

Revised Date:

10-1-2018

Subchapter:

8

Adoption Subsidy

Issuance:

100

Adoption Subsidy Generally

 

 

Purpose:

 

This issuance establishes the Federal and State laws and regulations that authorize CP&P to provide subsidy for adopted children.

 

Authority:

 

·               P.L.110-351. Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (FCSIAA) OF 2008

·               SEC 470. [42 U.S.C. 670], Social Security Act, Part E

·               P.L. 96-272, Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980

·               N.J.S.A. 9:7-1 et seq.

·               N.J.S.A. 30:4C-46 et seq.

·               N.J.A.C. 3A:23-1.1, 1.2, 1.3 Adoption

·               N.J.S.A. 3A:50, Manual of Requirements for Adoption Agencies

·               N.J.S.A. 3A:51, Manual of Requirements for Resource Family Parents

 

Policy

 

 

A)   Criteria for Special Needs Determination

 

Each child must meet at least one of the following criteria for determination as child with “special needs”:

·            The child has a serious medical or dental condition that will require repeated or frequent hospitalization or treatment.

·            The child has any physical handicap which makes the child totally or partially incapacitated for education or the potential to earn income.

·            A child with a substantial disfigurement.

·            A child with a diagnosed emotional, mental health, or behavioral problem, psychiatric disorder, serious intellectual incapacity, or brain damage that seriously affects the child’s ability to relate to his or her peers or authority figures, including but not limited to a diagnosed developmental disability.

·            The child is one of a group of three or more siblings (including half siblings) placed together or the child is the third or additional sibling placed in the same home, even though the first and second sibling receive no subsidy.

·            The child is one of two siblings (including half siblings), one of whom meets the special needs criteria, and the resource home is considered the most appropriate setting for the siblings or the child is being placed in the home with a sibling receiving subsidy.

·            A child belonging to an ethnic or minority group for whom adoptive homes are not readily available to CP&P. Information regarding adoption home availability may be obtained from CP&P.        

·         The child is 10 years old or older.

·         The child experienced abuse or neglect that resulted in an out-of-home placement by CP&P.

·         The child meeting the medical or disability requirements for Supplemental Security Income pursuant to 42 U.S.C.673(c).

·         Any other condition of a specific child which may be approved by the CP&P Director or designee that is not contrary to Federal or State statute and regulations which may include, but is not limited to:

-     Child is at high risk of developmental, educational, or emotional problems secondary to prenatal drug exposure.

 

-     Child has a high risk of genetic predisposition to mental illness due to parental mental health history.

 

-     Child is placed with relative or kin who will not adopt without subsidy.

 

This policy applies to any child the State of New Jersey has the legal right to place for adoption, or a child who is legally free for adoption, but is reasonably expected not to be placed for adoption due to the lack of available adoptive families. The CP&P Director or designee shall maintain the basis for subsidy eligibility.The availability of adoptive homes for specific categories of children may change over time.

B)   Eligibility Criteria for the CP&P Adoption Subsidy Program:

 

The CP&P director or designee shall designate the child as a “child with special needs.” The child’s special needs must be documented in his or her case record, specifying the factors that make the child difficult to place. 

CP&P staff shall show that a "reasonable effort" was made to place the child in an adoptive setting without providing a subsidy, except when the child's resource parent is adopting the child, or where CP&P determines that such efforts should not be made due to the special needs of the child or the special qualifications of the resource parent. The Caseworker must document in the child's case record all efforts made to place the child. 

Note: The subsidy must be approved prior to the finalization of the adoption.

C)   Benefits Provided through Adoption Subsidy

Adoption assistance payments are made to adoptive parent(s) who have entered into a written adoption assistance agreement with the Division before the finalization of the adoption. See CP&P Form 14-184, Initial Agreement Between the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency and Adoptive Parents Regarding Subsidy Payments. The types of benefits available in the agreement include:

·       A monthly maintenance payment, including clothing monies. See CP&P-IV-C- 8-300 Monthly Payment/Clothing Monies.

·         Medical coverage for medical and surgical costs through the New Jersey Medicaid Program. Note: The adoptive parent first uses his or her privately held health insurance. Medicaid coverage continues as long as the child is receiving subsidy. See CP&P-IV-C-8-300, Medical Coverage.

·         Payment of legal fees and other non-recurrent (one-time) adoption costs within two years of the adoption finalization. Up to $2,000 of non-recurring adoption expenses may be reimbursed for each child. This amount includes a maximum of $500 for reimbursement of legal fees for each child. These costs may be reimbursed within two years of an adoption disruption, if the adoption is not finalized. See CP&P-IV-C-8-300, Reimbursement for Non-recurring Adoption Expenses, and CP&P-IV-C-8-300, Legal Fees.

·            Payment for special services for children with documented exceptional needs. These services must be documented and approved prior to the adoption finalization in the CP&P Form 14-184, Initial Agreement Between the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency and Adoptive Parents Regarding Subsidy Payments before they are rendered. See Exception for Special Services, below, and CP&P-IV-C-8-300, Special Services Expenses. See CP&P-IV-C-8-200, Subsidy Payments Based on Written Agreement, and CP&P-IV-C-8-300, Detailed Description of Services Provided Through Adoption Subsidy, for more details regarding the agreement and services.

 

While not provided directly by the subsidy:

 

A child whose adoption was finalized after January 1, 2005, may be eligible to receive preschool child care if the adoptive parent is working, going to school, or attending training. See CP&P-IV-C-8-900, Post Adoption Child Care (PACC). The adoptive parent may be eligible for Federal tax credits, including the Federal adoption tax credit in the year the adoption takes place. See CP&P-IV-C-1-110, NJ and Federal Benefit Programs and Federal Taxes.

 

D)   Adoption Subsidy Shall Not Exceed Foster Care Board Rate

A resource parent, on behalf of the child, may not receive more in subsidy than he or she was receiving in foster care board. This includes the specialized foster care board rate, as well as rates paid to treatment providers. This means that if the Rate Assessment Pre-Adoption indicates a child is entitled to a higher rate, that rate shall be reflected in the foster care board, or he or she will not be entitled to the higher rate in adoption subsidy. See CP&P-IV-C-8-200).

E)   Increase in Subsidy Rates for Cost of Living and Age Categories

The maintenance rate for all children receiving subsidy is increased periodically to reflect cost of living increases approved by the State legislature for resource family board and subsidized adoption rates. The rate is based on the subsidy board rate table valid at the time of the subsidy approval.

This also applies when a child enters a new rate category, based on the child's age, at ages, 6, 10, and 13.

F)   Consent of Adoptive Parent Required for Change in Subsidy Rate

A change in the amount of the maintenance subsidy rate can only be made with the consent of the adoptive parent. If it is anticipated that there may be a reduction in the rate of subsidy after the adoption takes place, this shall be written into the initial subsidy agreement and agreed upon prior to the child's placement. See CP&P-IV-C-8-200, Subsidy Payments Based on Written Agreement.

G)    Increase in Level of Care

 

When a change in subsidy (e.g., increase in the rate for special services) is approved by the Assistant Director of the Office of Adoption Operations or his or her designee, the revised subsidy rate shall take effect retroactive to the date of the request for the change. The exception is when the family caused a significant delay (e.g., three months or longer) by not providing sufficient documentation in a timely manner. See CP&PIV C 8 400 Subsidized Rates for Children Requiring Increase in Level of Care.

H)   Post-Adoption Request for Subsidy

 

An adoptive family may re-apply for adoption subsidy on behalf of a child placed by CP&P and initially found ineligible for the subsidy benefit. The adoptive family may apply for adoption subsidy at any time after finalization if the child develops problems traceable to his or her genetic heritage or pre-adoptive experiences.

 

If the child is determined to have special needs, the subsidy is effective retroactive to the date of the date of the re-application, unless the family caused an undue delay (three months or longer) by not providing sufficient documentation in a timely manner.

 

I)       Age Limitations for Adoption Subsidy

State law and regulations allow CP&P to continue to pay the full adoption subsidy until the child turns 18 years of age or has completed high school. Extensions beyond age 18 require that the child is:

·         Enrolled and attending high school full time leading to a high school diploma or an equivalent degree; or   

·         A developmentally disabled child in a special education program through the local school district.

 

See CP&P-IV-C-8-500, Exceptions to Termination of Subsidy for Adoptees Ages 18 to 21, for additional exceptions, policy, and procedures that must be followed regarding the exceptions.

 

J)    Standards for Adoptive Parent Eligibility

Each adoptive parent shall meet the following standards:

·         Is eligible to adopt a child; 

·         Agree to adopt a hard-to-place child regardless of his or her own income; and 

·         Meet conditions which include, but are not limited to:   

-           Licensure: As of July 1, 2005, all CP&P adoptive placements shall be made in Resource Families licensed by the DCF Office of Licensing. 

-            Age: The adoptive parent(s) shall turn 18 before the adoption is finalized and is at least 10 years older than the child being adopted, unless either of these limitations is waived by the court. There is no maximum age but based on the age of the child to be adopted, the adoptive parent(s) shall be capable of raising the child to adulthood, or able to provide an adequate back-up plan for the child's care. 

-           Religion: The adoptive parent(s) shall not be required to be affiliated with, or be a practicing member of, any religion. He or she is required to be capable of raising the child in a decent, moral environment.

-         Residence: The adoptive parent(s)shall be a resident of New Jersey or any other state, if approved for adoption by a licensed agency in that state, and all interstate or international requirements are met. N.J.S.A. 9:7-1 et seq.

 -          Immigration status: Adoptive parent(s)shall be a United States citizen or a legally documented resident.

-         Income: Income is not a factor in negotiating an adoptive subsidy. Adoptive parent(s), with the addition of a State adoption subsidy, shall have sufficient financial resources to provide for the basic health, education, general well-being, and normal development of the adopted child. The adoptive parent(s) shall demonstrate an ability to manage family financial resources efficiently to meet the basic cost of raising the child in a suitable way. Adoptive parent(s) cannot rely on the subsidy to meet his or her own or other family member's needs.

-         Health: Adoptive parent(s) shall be in reasonably good physical and emotional health to raise the adopted child to adulthood, as attested to by an examination by a physician. Also, he or she shall be free from any physical or mental illness or disability which would jeopardize the safety, normal health, education, and well-being of the adopted child.

-         Suitability: The adoptive parent(s) shall be able to provide for the normal development of the adopted child and provide for his or her safety, general health, education, and well-being.

K)   Compulsory Education Requirement

All children receiving an adoption subsidy shall meet compulsory education requirements. The adoptive parent shall agree to enroll the child in elementary or high school, in accordance with State law governing compulsory education, and assure the child is attending school. The following parameters apply:

•   The compulsory age for education in New Jersey is age 6 to 16;

 

•   Enrollment shall be on a full-time basis;

 

•   The school curriculum can include an independent study program, in

     accordance with State education law, administered by the local school or

     school district.

 

If the child is incapable of attending school on a full-time basis due to a medical condition, the child's incapacity shall be verified by a doctor's note and medical report which is filed in the adoption subsidy record.

Note: Verification of the child's medical condition that prevents him or her from attending school full-time is required each year after the age of 18.

L)   Subsidy Provided if Caregiver Moves Out of State

If the adopted child and adoptive family move out of New Jersey, CP&P continues to pay the adoption subsidy. Medical coverage will be provided by the new state of residence, if the child is Title IV-E eligible, or the state provides reciprocity through the Interstate Compact on Adoption Medical Assistance (ICAMA). If not, CP&P continues to provide medical coverage through the New Jersey Medicaid program. If no Medicaid provider is available in the other state, payment by CP&P will be at the New Jersey Medicaid rate. Payment for all non-Medicaid medical services requires prior approval from CP&P. See CP&P-IV-C-8-300, Medical Coverage.

M)  When Child Abuse or Neglect Occurs in the Adoptive Home

When an adopted child receiving subsidy enters out-of-home placement as a result of an Established or Substantiated abuse or neglect finding, the Local Office Caseworker shall refer the family for child support. The Caseworker shall immediately contact the Local Office of Revenue and Financial Reporting and IV-E Operations for direction. He or she shall also contact the Subsidy Unit in the Office of Adoption Operations.

Note: See CP&P-IX-F-1-225, Support Procedures.

N)   When an Adopted Child Enters Out-of-Home Placement

Out-of-home placement shall not be provided through the subsidy program. If a child living in New Jersey, receiving a New Jersey adoption subsidy is in need of an out-of-home placement (e.g., placement in a resource family home, group home, residential treatment center), the family shall contact Child Protection and Permanency for resource family home care, or Children’s System of Care (CSOC) directly or another provider may refer the family to CSOC for residential treatment care.

Children living in another state, receiving New Jersey adoption subsidy, shall receive treatment-based services from his or her state of residence.

When an adopted child receiving subsidy enters an out-of-home placement or treatment for any reason including an Established or Substantiated abuse or neglect finding, the subsidy shall not be terminated. In circumstances involving an Established or Substantiated child abuse or neglect finding, the adoptive parent is referred for child support. See When Child Abuse or Neglect Occurs in the Adoptive Home and CP&P-IX-F-1-225, Support Procedures.

O)  Termination of Subsidy

Families shall continue to receive an adoption subsidy regardless of his or her income or expenses if he or she continues to support the adopted child. A signed Adoption Assistance Agreement can only be terminated, without the concurrence of the adoptive family, in the following situations:

-           The adoptive family is no longer legally responsible for financially supporting the child. This includes when the child or parent dies, parental rights have been terminated, or the child legally becomes an emancipated minor, marries, or enlists in the military.

 

-           The adoptive family is not providing any support for the child. Support may include monies for the care of the child, but also costs for services.

 

-           The child has reached age 18 and is not eligible for an exception to continue subsidy to age 21. See Exceptions to Termination of Subsidy for Adoptees Aged 18-21 - CPP-IV-C-8-500.

 

-           Title IV-E Adoption Assistance details specific Federal termination criteria for children receiving Federal Title IV-E Adoption Assistance. See Title IV-E Adoption Assistance - CPP-IV-F-1-300.

The adoptive family must inform CP&P if any changes in circumstances which would make him or her ineligible for adoption subsidy payments or eligible for adoption subsidy payments in a different amount, (e.g., child enters out-of-home treatment program) with the adoptive parent.

P)   Hearing Rights

The adoptive parent applying for or receiving a subsidy for a child has the right under specific circumstances to request an administrative hearing regarding the application process and the denial or changes in subsidy payments or services.

Note: See CP&P-IV-C-8-700, Hearing Rights of Adoptive Parents Applying for and Receiving Subsidy.

Q)  Out of State Services

If the adoptive family moves out of state, information regarding other services can be obtained through the DCF Interstate Office or the local child welfare office in the new state of residence. If services are needed which were not specified in the child's subsidy agreement, the adoptive parent shall seek them through the social service department in the new state of residence.

R)   Private Adoption Subsidy

 

Private adoption agencies bear the burden of demonstrating to the satisfaction of the CP&P Director or Designee that a child placed by that adoption agency could not be placed with appropriate adoptive parents without adoption subsidy.         

A child placed in an adoption home prior to the Department being notified of the need for adoption subsidy shall be presumed to have been placed without the need for such assistance unless compelling evidence to the contrary is provided.

 

Procedures: 

 

 

1)    Annual Subsidy Redetermination and Change in Circumstances

 

The adoptive parent(s) notifies CP&P of any change in the needs of the child or the circumstances of the adoptive family that would affect the eligibility for or amount of the subsidy. This includes complying with the annual notice for subsidy.

 

2)    Documentation

 

The private adoption agency provides documentation of the circumstances that qualify the child as “a child with special needs” prior to placing the child in the adoptive home. The private adoption agency provides documentation on the efforts to place the child in an adoptive home.

 

3)    Termination of Subsidy

 

When the adopted child meets the criteria for subsidy termination, the Caseworker completes CP&P Form 14-227, Notification of the Termination of an Adoption Subsidy notifying the adoptive parent about the subsidy termination.

 

Note: See Processing Adoption Subsidies - CPP-IV-C-8-200.

 

 

4)    Education Requirement

 

The adoptive parent's agreement is documented by his or her signing the adoption subsidy agreement, CP&P Form 14-184, Initial Agreement Between the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency and Adoption Parents Regarding Subsidy Payments, which contains a certification that the child is enrolled in school. The resource parent is required to ensure the adopted child is enrolled and attending school. Annually, the CP&P Form 14-188, Annual Notice Regarding Adoption Subsidy is mailed to the adoptive family.

 

Note: See the CP&P Form 14-188A and Form 14-188B,  Annual Notice Regarding Subsidy Letter and Agreement.

 

Key Terms (Definitions):

 

·         Child with Special Needs - Any child who the State of New Jersey or a private adoption agency licensed to operate in New Jersey has the legal right to place for adoption, but who is reasonably expected to be hard to place (due to a difficulty in finding a prospective adoptive homes).

 

Forms and Attachments:

 

·                  CP&P Form 14-184, Agreement Between the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency and Adoptive Parents Regarding Subsidy Payments - CPP-X-A-1-14.184

·                  CP&P Form 5-8a, Resource Family Rate Agreement - CPP-X-A-1-5.8a

·                  CP&P Form 14-183, Determination of Eligibility for Subsidy - CPP-X-A-1-14.183

·                  CP&P Form 14-188, Annual Notice Regarding Adoption Subsidy

·                  CP&P Form 14-219, Basis for Subsidy Eligibility

·                  CP&P Form 14-227, Notification of the Termination of an Adoption Subsidy

 

Related Information:

 

 

·                  Services Provided Through Adoption Subsidy - CPP-IV-C-8-300

·                  Processing Adoption Subsidies - CPP-IV-C-8-200 

·                  Post Adoption Child Care (PACC) - CPP-IV-C-8-900

·                  Support Services - CPP-IX-F-1-225

·                  Hearing Rights Related to Adoption Subsidy - CPP-IV-C-8-700