Adoption Subsidy FAQ, pg 2

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Why, When, What, How?

Why do I have to "negotiate" a subsidy contract?

Federal law requires that contracts be negotiated to meet the individual needs of each child. Further, parents have the right to re-open negotiations and ask for a new contract any time the child's needs or the family circumstances change. There is no limit to how often or how many times any contract can be negotiated.

When is the subsidy first negotiated?

The ideal time to negotiate the subsidy is right before the child moves in, but many agencies don't get to it until the child has been in the home a few days or even weeks. This is fine as long as the contract is backdated to the day the child moved in for good (not just for a visit). This backdating will ensure payment back to the first day of eligibility. Many parents will want to renegotiate again after the child has been in the home a while and they have a better idea of the costs associated with meeting the child's needs.

If a family is told to wait to negotiate until after finalization, they should contact a supervisor for a second opinion because federal law says the contract should be dated from the date the child moves in for adoption. When subsidy contracts are negotiated later (as in cases where families were not told about subsidies), retroactive payments may go back to the date of move-in as well, but, by law, a fair hearing is required first, before retroactive payments can be made.

What do I need to negotiate a subsidy contract?

There are several documents that are "required reading" and a few helpful books. It is also helpful to have a copy of state laws governing subsidy. If your child's state of origin has not yet put its Adoption Code online, you can order a copy of state adoption laws through the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC), a federal information center.

How do I negotiate a subsidy contract?

Once you have the documents listed above, gather up the documentation of your child's special needs such as medical records, prescription histories, psychological evaluations, school records, and the information about risk factors and special needs listed in the documents given to you by the adoption agency.

Next, match the level of your child's special needs to the appropriate level of adoption subsidy. (Note: a few states have one level of payment only.)
Example (To Illustrate How to Find the Subsidy Level)

Negotiating Tyrone's Subsidy

John's newly adopted ten year old son, Tyrone, has been diagnosed with severe learning disabilities and asthma. The state that placed Tyrone with John has 4 different levels of adoption subsidy and two age-related increase options. Level 2 includes conditions like asthma, and Level 3 covers certain disabilities of a severe nature, including learning problems. In addition, Tyrone qualifies for one age related increase as a child who is "between the ages of 6 and 12." Each level and age increase represents an extra 50 dollars over the Level 1 base rate of $350.00. Therefore, Tyrone qualifies for $500.00 per month. This is the base rate, plus an extra $50 due to age and an extra $100 due to a Level 3 disability.

John will ask that the contract be written for this amount, and will provide documentation of Tyrone's special needs. The state can agree or can argue that the learning disability is not severe enough to qualify beyond Level 2. If John and the state agency cannot agree on a final amount, John may ask for an impartial review of his case called a "fair hearing."

Eventually, John and the state agree on $475.00 per month. However, further testing reveals that Tyrone's learning disabilities are more serious than once thought. John takes this new documentation and uses it to re-negotiate a new contract at $500.00 per month.
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