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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 22. Social Services
Agency 40. Department of Social Services
Chapter 201. Permanency Services - Prevention, Foster Care, Adoption, and Independent Living
7/5/2020

22VAC40-201-161. Adoption Assistance.

A. The purpose of adoption assistance is to facilitate adoptive placements and ensure permanency for children with special needs.

B. For a child to be eligible for adoption assistance he must have been determined to be a child with special needs in accordance with §§ 63.2-1300 and 63.2-1301 of the Code of Virginia and meet the following criteria:

1. Be younger than 18 years of age and meet the requirements set forth in § 473 of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act (42 USC § 673); or

2. Be younger than 18 years of age and in the placement and care of a child-placing agency at the time the petition for adoption is filed and be placed by the child-placing agency with the prospective adoptive parents for the purpose of adoption, except for those situations in which the foster parents have filed a petition for adoption under § 63.2-1229 of the Code of Virginia.

C. Adoption assistance may include the following payments or services where appropriate:

1. Title IV-E maintenance payments if the child meets federal eligibility requirements.

2. State-funded maintenance payments when the local department determines that (i) the child does not meet the requirements in § 473 of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act (42 USC § 673) and (ii) the child is a child with special needs pursuant to § 63.2-1301 B of the Code of Virginia.

3. State-funded special service payments used to help meet the child's physical, mental, emotional, or dental needs (i) when the child is in the custody of the local board or in the custody of a licensed child-placing agency and placed for adoption, (ii) when the child meets the criteria of a child with special needs set out in § 63.2-1300 of the Code of Virginia, and (iii) when the adoptive parents are capable of providing permanent family relationships needed by the child in all respects except financial.

4. Nonrecurring expense payments when an adoption assistance agreement is entered into prior to or at the time of the finalization of the adoption. Claims for nonrecurring expense payments must be filed within two years of the date of the final decree of adoption.

D. For the child who meets the requirements in § 473 of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act (42 USC § 673) or who is receiving state-funded maintenance payments and has a special medical need as specified in § 32.1-325 of the Code of Virginia and in the Virginia DSS Medicaid Eligibility manual, M0310.102 2b, the adoption assistance agreement shall include a statement indicating the child's Medicaid eligibility status.

E. Additional criteria for the payments and services specified in subsection C of this section are as follows:

1. A maintenance payment, whether under Title IV-E or state funded, shall be approved for a child who is eligible for adoption assistance unless the adoptive parent indicates, or it is determined through negotiation, that the payment is not needed.

a. The amount of all payments shall be negotiated by a representative of the department with the adoptive parents, taking into consideration the needs of the child and circumstances of the adoptive parents.

b. The amount of maintenance payments made shall not exceed the foster care maintenance payment that would have been paid during the period if the child had been in a foster family home.

c. The maintenance payments shall not be reduced below the amount specified in the adoption assistance agreement without the concurrence of the adoptive parents or a statewide reduction.

d. The maintenance payment specified in the adoption assistance agreement may only be increased if the child is already receiving the maximum amount allowed and (i) the child reaches an age at which the foster care maintenance rate would increase or (ii) statewide increases are approved for foster care maintenance rates.

e. The adoptive parents shall be required under the adoption assistance agreement to keep the local department informed of the circumstances that would make them ineligible for a maintenance payment or eligible for a different amount of maintenance payment than that specified in the adoption assistance agreement.

f. Maintenance payments shall cease being made to the adoptive parents for the child who has not yet reached the age of 18 years if (i) the adoptive parents are no longer legally responsible for the support of the child or (ii) the child is no longer receiving any support from the adoptive parents.

2. The special service payment shall be directly related to the child's special needs listed on the adoption assistance agreement. Special service payments shall be time limited based on the needs of the child and can be modified beyond the original provision of the agreement when the local department and the adoptive parents agree to the modification in a signed and dated addendum. Subsection K of this section addresses addendums to an existing agreement.

a. A special service payment may be used for a child eligible for Medicaid to supplement payments not covered by Medicaid.

b. Payments for special services are negotiated by a representative of the department with the adoptive parents, taking into consideration:

(1) The special needs of the child;

(2) Alternative resources available to fully or partially defray the cost of meeting the child's special needs; and

(3) The circumstances of the adoptive family, including the family's income.

c. The rate of payment shall not exceed the prevailing rate for the provision of such special services within the child's community.

d. The special services adoption assistance payments shall be separate and distinct from the maintenance payments and nonrecurring expenses on the adoption assistance form.

3. The adoptive parent shall be reimbursed, upon request, for the nonrecurring expenses of adopting a child with special needs.

a. The total amount of reimbursement shall be based on actual costs and shall not exceed $2,000 per child per placement or an amount established by federal law.

b. Payment of nonrecurring expenses may begin as soon as the child is placed in the adoptive home and the adoption assistance agreement has been signed.

c. Nonrecurring expenses include those items set out in § 63.2-1301 D of the Code of Virginia.

4. When the adoptive parents decline a specific payment or agree to a reduced payment amount and their family circumstances or the child's needs change, the adoptive parents may request a change to the agreement and an addendum to the adoption assistance agreement can be negotiated. The requirements for addendums to an existing adoption assistance agreement are in subsection K of this section.

F. All adoption assistance payments, services, and agreements shall be negotiated with the adoptive parents by a representative of the department, taking into consideration the needs of the child, the circumstances of the family, and the limitations specified in subsections B, C, and E of this section. Documentation supporting the requests for payments and services shall be provided by the adoptive parents and for consideration in the negotiation of the adoption assistance agreement. Income shall not be the sole factor in considering the family's circumstances during the negotiations. Available family and community resources shall be explored as an alternative or supplement to the adoption assistance payment.

G. An adoption assistance agreement shall be entered into by the local board and the adoptive parents or a child who has been determined eligible for adoption assistance. Local departments shall use the adoption assistance agreement form developed by the department. In cases in which the child is in the custody of a licensed child-placing agency, the agreement shall be entered into by the local board, the licensed child-placing agency, and the adoptive parents. All adoption assistance agreements shall be negotiated by a representative of the department.

H. When a child is determined to be eligible for adoption assistance prior to the adoption being finalized, the adoption assistance agreement shall:

1. Be signed prior to or at the time of entry of the final order of adoption;

2. Specify the payment types, monthly amounts, special services to be provided; and

3. Remain in effect and governed by the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia regardless of the state to which the adoptive parents may relocate.

I. Application for adoption assistance after finalization of the adoption shall be for state-funded maintenance payments as set out in § 63.2-1301 B of the Code of Virginia. The application for adoption assistance shall be submitted within one year of diagnosis of the condition that establishes the child as a child with special needs.

J. The adoptive parents shall annually submit a signed adoption assistance affidavit to the local department by the end of the month in which the adoption assistance agreement was effective pursuant to § 63.2-1302 C of the Code of Virginia.

K. Adoption assistance agreements may be modified beyond the original provisions of the agreement to the extent provided by law when the local department and the adoptive parents agree in writing to new or renewed special services or provisions in an addendum signed and dated by the local department and the adoptive parents. The local departments shall use the addendum form provided by the department and the changes to the agreement shall be negotiated by a representative of the department.

L. The local department is responsible for:

1. Maintaining payments and services identified in the adoption assistance agreement and any addendum in effect, regardless of where the family resides;

2. Notifying adoptive parents who are receiving adoption assistance that the annual affidavit is due;

3. Discussing with the adoptive parents the child's unique needs and their ability to manage the needs of the child;

4. Assisting the adoptive parents in coordinating services to meet the child's special needs related to adoption assistance upon request;

5. Providing services to prevent disruption and strengthen family well-being, when requested by the adoptive parents; and

6. Providing training, when requested, to the adoptive parents as part of an already established local department curriculum. If the local department does not provide the necessary training when requested, the local department shall identify potential training sources and assist the adoptive parent in accessing the training.

M. Adoption assistance shall be terminated when the child reaches the age of 18 years unless:

1. The child has a physical or mental disability or an educational delay resulting from the child's disability that warrants continuation of the adoption assistance. If a child has a physical or mental disability that warrants continuation of the adoption assistance, the adoption assistance payments may continue until the child reaches the age of 21 years if the local department and adoptive parents sign an addendum to the agreement to extend the agreement to the specified age. If the sole reason for continuing the agreement beyond the age of 18 years is educational delay, then state-funded adoption assistance may continue until the youth graduates from high school or until the youth's 21st birthday, whichever is earlier, if the local department and the adoptive parents sign an addendum to the agreement to extend the agreement to the end of the month of high school graduation or until the youth's 21st birthday, whichever is earlier or

2. The initial adoption assistance agreement became effective on or after the youth's 16th birthday and the youth turned 18 years of age on or after July 1, 2016. Adoption assistance may continue until the youth reaches 21 years of age if the youth meets one of the following criteria:

a. Completing secondary education or an equivalent credential;

b. Enrolled in an institution that provides post-secondary or vocational education;

c. Participating in a program or activity designed to promote employment or remove barriers to employment;

d. Employed at least 80 hours a month; or

e. Is incapable of doing any of the activities described in subdivisions 2 a through 2 d of this subsection due to a medical condition, which incapability is supported by regularly updated information in the program participant's case record.

N. Adoption assistance shall not be terminated before the child's 18th birthday without the consent of the adoptive parents unless:

1. The child is no longer receiving support from the adoptive parents; or

2. The adoptive parents are no longer legally responsible for the support of the child.

O. Local boards of social services are responsible for informing adoptive parents in writing of their right to appeal decisions relating to the child's eligibility for adoption assistance and decisions relating to payments and services to be provided within 30 days of receiving written notice of such decisions. In accordance with § 63.2-1304 of the Code of Virginia applicants for, and recipients of, adoption assistance shall have the right to appeal adoption assistance decisions by a local board or licensed child-placing agency in granting, denying, changing, or discontinuing adoption assistance.

Statutory Authority

§§ 63.2-217 and 63.2-319 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Volume 33, Issue 08, eff. January 11, 2017; amended, Virginia Register Volume 35, Issue 05, eff. December 1, 2018.

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