Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Alaska

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What specific factors or conditions does your State consider to determine that a child cannot be placed with an adoptive family without providing financial assistance? ("What is your State definition of special needs?")

A child with special needs is defined as a “hard to place child” that has at least one of the following needs or circumstances that may be a barrier to placement or adoption without a subsidy:

  • Ethnic background, age, or membership in a minority or sibling group
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Emotional disturbance
  • A recognized high risk of physical or mental disease
  • Any combination of the above factors or conditions

The department may determine, on a case by case basis, that a hard-to-place child with special needs who is not in department custody, and is not eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance is eligible for a State adoption or guardianship subsidy because of a hardship situation, including any of the following:

  • A sibling of the child has already been adopted by, or made a ward of, the family
  • The family has highly specialized skills to meet the child's needs, and the lack of a subsidy would prevent the adoption or guardianship.

 

What is the maximum amount a family may receive in non-recurring adoption expenses from your State? (Adoptive parents can receive reimbursement of certain approved, "one-time" adoption expenses incurred in the process of finalizing a special needs adoption.)

$2,000 per child, per finalized adoption

 

Does your State enter into deferred adoption assistance agreements? (In some States, adoptive parents can enter into an agreement in which they choose to defer the receipt of a Medicaid card, the monthly monetary payment, or both and can elect to receive the Medicaid card and/or monetary payment at another time.)

Alaska offers deferred adoption assistance agreements.

 

When can adoption assistance payments and benefits begin in your State?

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin in Alaska at adoption placement.

 

How are changes made to the adoption assistance agreement in your State?

  • When can a parent request a change in the adoption assistance agreement?
  • How does a parent request a change in the adoption assistance agreement?
  • What if a parent does not receive the change they request in the adoption assistance agreement?

Alaska permits changes to the adoption assistance agreement when the change will best meet the special needs of the child. All changes to the child’s adoption assistance agreement are based on a child’s current, individualized needs so conditions for change will therefore vary from child to child. Requests for change in the adoption assistance agreement must be made in writing and must include supporting documents demonstrating the need for change in the agreement.

Families should contact the Office of Children’s Services (OCS) adoption unit and request the Subsidy Change Request form. Alaska will consider any documentation that supports the family’s request for a change in assistance.

Final changes are negotiated between OCS and the family and require the family's concurrence. To report a change in address or the child’s living situation, to request a change to the subsidy, or for general questions regarding the adoption and guardianship subsidy program, adoptive parents may contact the OCS adoption unit: (907) 465-3209.

Families have the right to request a reconsideration and/or appeal of the decision received in response to their request for change to the agreement. This request for reconsideration can take the form of first-level review or an evidentiary hearing.

 

What types of postadoption services are available in your State, and how do you find out more about them?

Post-adoption services in Alaska are administered by the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Office of Children's Services (OCS) and provided by contract through private agencies or independently through private and parent organizations.

Families who are a part of Alaska’s adoption assistance program are referred to a private agency when the families enter into an adoption assistance agreement with the State. The Alaska Center for Resource Families (ACRF) is available to provide postadoption and adoption preservation services. ACRF, a project of Northwest Resource Associates funded by the State of Alaska, DHSS OCS offers a central location for postadoption and State contact information. Contact information for regional offices is available on the ACRF website.

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Alaska's respite programs.

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker or post adoption services specialist for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

 

What mental health services are provided by your State?

Mental health services in Alaska are managed by the Division of Behavioral Health within the Alaska Department of Health.

 

Does your State provide additional finances or services for medical or therapeutic needs not covered under your State medical plan to children receiving adoption assistance?

Alaska Office of Children's Services (OCS) makes all efforts to grant requests for additional services on a case-by-case basis when the need of the child or the circumstances of the family is well documented. Parents are directed to contact the OCS adoption program at 907.465.3209 for more information.

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

 

What is your State's process for applying for a fair hearing? (A fair hearing is a legal, administrative procedure that provides a forum to address disagreements with agency decisions.)

Adoptive parents may request a first-level review and/or an evidentiary hearing when there is disagreement with a decision regarding their child’s adoption assistance benefits. To seek a review, an adoptive parent must do so no later than 30 days after the date of the department's decision. The request may be made by telephone, by electronic mail, by facsimile transmission, or in writing to the department. A request for review under this section does not affect the right to an evidentiary hearing. At any time during a review under this section, an adoptive parent may be represented by an attorney or may be self-represented. A self-represented party may be assisted by a person who is not an attorney. An adoptive parent who is not satisfied with the department's first-level review decision may request an evidentiary hearing. If an adoptive parent does not submit a request for a first-level review, the department's original decision is a final administrative action unless a written request for an evidentiary hearing is submitted.

An adoptive parent who is not satisfied with the department's decision to deny, suspend, reduce, change, or terminate an adoption subsidy payment may request an evidentiary hearing. A request for an evidentiary hearing must be submitted in writing no later than 30 days after the date of the department's original decision or a decision under a first-level review. At any time during the hearing, an adoptive parent may be represented by an attorney or may be self-represented. Upon receipt of a timely request under this section, the department will request the chief administrative law judge, to appoint an administrative law judge employed or retained by the office of administrative hearings to preside over a hearing.

To read about the first-level review or evidentiary hearing please view the Alaska State Legislature website.

 

Does your state, territory, or tribe offer a guardianship subsidy or assistance (monthly payments and medical coverage) program?

Mental health services in Alaska are managed by the Division of Behavioral Health within the Alaska Department of Health.

 

What are the eligibility criteria for a child to receive guardianship assistance?

Eligibility criteria may be found in the Alaska Admin Code AAC 53.227-State adoption or guardianship subsidy.

 

If a specific question is not displayed, the State or Territory did not provide a response to that question.