A personal account of one family’s experience in applying for Adoption Subsidy retroactively.
In the process of adopting a sibling group of four children two years ago, we learned through their social worker that it was still possible to petition for monetary assistance for a child we adopted eight years ago. We were astounded and thrilled as this might mean that “Chris” could attend a costly private school that could address his special needs that had existed prior to adoption. Here is the summary of what transpired in obtaining an adoption assistance agreement retroactively for “Chris.”
We submitted a written petition to the adoption unit for a fair hearing. In the petition we included our son’s former name and date of adoption decree. We documented recent evaluations by professional examiners and included copieswith the letter. We also enclosed a copy of his records from the “Zero to Three Program.” This was to show his “special needs” status before the adoption. About five months later, we received a notice regarding the scheduling of the fair hearing to be held in one month.
We did not use legal counsel, but brought the following documents with us to the hearing:
- Adoption decree
- Zero to Three Program records
- Copy of evaluation by professional regarding our son’s special needs
At the hearing we were asked by the fair hearing officer from the Judiciary our reason for petitioning. Along with the fair hearing officer, the others in attendance were three social workers from the adoption unit. The meeting was held in a private room in the adoption unit. The hearing lasted less than 30 minutes.
During the hearing, we presented our documents and the social workers confirmed that we had not, at this time or at any time since the adoption, received any financial supplements for our son. It was acknowledged by the three social workers that, at the time of our son’s adoption, subsidies were not normally provided unless requested. We had been unaware of this policy at the time of the adoption and had not realized that we could have inquired regarding subsidy prior to the adoption or that we had any recourse after the adoption.
Within 30 days after the hearing, we received a letter stating that the court granted permission to provide a monthly stipend of $529 in adoption assistance. Along with this letter was a copy of DHS Form 1570—Application for Adoption Assistance For a Child With Special Needs. It was wonderful to realize that this help was there for children with special needs. This funding will enable us to help our son get the specialized education so desperately needed.
I hope this information will help families who have adopted a child through the Department who has significant special education needs or other special needs. This federal law (ed. note: P.L. 96-272, also called Title IV-E or ASFA IV-B) is in place to help families who are adopting children eligible for this program. If your child fits this description don’t wait, act now. (ed note: Additional information is available from HFPA or from the website of the North American Council on Adoptable Children: www.nacac.org.)