Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Arizona

Date: September 2023

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?")

The State has determined that one of the following special needs exists that make it reasonable to conclude the child cannot be placed with adoptive parents without providing adoption assistance:

  • Physical mental or developmental disability
  • Emotional disturbance
  • High risk of physical or mental disease that may result in a debilitating condition
  • High risk of developmental disability that may result in a debilitating condition
  • Age 6 or older at the time of application for adoption subsidy
  • Sibling relationship when such factor impedes the child’s adoptive placement
  • Racial or ethnic factors when such factor(s) impede the child’s adoptive placement
  • High risk of severe emotional disturbance if removed from the care of the child’s foster parent or relative as diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist


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


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.)

Arizona does not offer deferred adoption assistance. However, an adoption assistance agreement can be negotiated with a $0 maintenance rate.


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

Adoption assistance payments may begin after the child has been placed for adoption (which is established by filing the petition to adopt) and after the adoption assistance agreement has been signed by the adoptive parent(s) and the Adoption Subsidy supervisor.


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?

Adoption assistance agreements are reviewed annually but parents may request a change in the adoption assistance agreement at any time. Parents are directed to contact their adoption assistance case manager to request a change and to provide documentation from appropriate professionals in support of the request for change. Requests for changes should be in writing but may be made over the phone. All changes must be approved by the Adoption Subsidy Review Committee. Parents have the right to appeal any agency decision denying, reducing or terminating adoption assistance by requesting a fair hearing in writing within 15 calendar days of the decision. Contact information for the adoption subsidy may be found on the Arizona Department of Child Safety website.


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

Post adoption services in Arizona are administered by the Department of Economic Security and through private agencies. The following private organizations provide support and information to adoptive families:

Aid to Adoption of Special Kids
Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents
Arizona’s Children Association
For more information, contact the appropriate Adoption Subsidy Unit.

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

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


What mental health services are provided by your State?

Public mental health services for children in Arizona are administered by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS). Public funding is through Arizona’s Medicaid program, known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

Mental health services include the following examples: evaluation and screening, inpatient psychiatric facility care, outpatient clinic care, behavioral health residential treatment, individual, group and family therapy, counseling, crisis intervention, behavior management, psychotropic medication, and respite.

ADHS/DBHS contracts with Regional Behavioral Health Authorities (RBHAs) for a network of providers, clinics and other appropriate facilities and services to deliver behavioral health services to eligible members in their contracted geographic service area (GSA). ADHS/DBHS has Intergovernmental Agreements for Tribal RBHAs with some of Arizona's American Indian Tribes to provide behavioral health services to persons living on the reservations.

Contact the Behavioral Health Services Crisis line for assistance.

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


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?

Arizona provides additional adoption assistance though a Special Services Subsidy. Special Services Subsidy benefits may provide for extraordinary, infrequent or uncommon needs related to the preexisting special needs conditions noted in the original adoption assistance agreement which cannot be met by Medicaid coverage or other public or private resources. The adoptive parent will request special services from the Adoption Subsidy Specialist and receive approval from the Adoption Subsidy Program prior to the adoptive parent incurring the specified expense.

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 have the right to request a fair hearing any time DCYF denies, reduces, or terminates adoption assistance benefits. Parents are directed to contact their Adoption Subsidy Specialist to request a fair hearing. Requests must be made in writing within fifteen calendar days after the mailing of an agency decision informing parents of an action affecting their child’s adoption assistance benefits. A pre-hearing summary of the facts and grounds should be prepared and submitted to the hearing officer not less than four days prior to the hearing. Benefits will not be reduced or terminated prior to a hearing decision, unless there is a substantial change in household eligibility. The hearing will be held at the local office or any other place mutually agreed upon by the hearing officer and the appellant. The hearing will be scheduled not less than twenty days or more than thirty days from the date of filing for the appeal. Appellant, in lieu of appearance, may submit a written statement or be available by telephone to testify. Hearings are conducted in accordance with Arizona Administrative Code R6-5-2405. The hearing officer listens to both sides and keeps a full and complete record of the hearing. All hearing decisions are final unless reconsideration is requested. An appellant may request a reconsideration of the hearing decision in writing within ten calendar days of the mailing of the decision.


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

Yes. Assistance is available regardless of the child’s title IV-E eligibility. There is no difference between IV-E and State/territorial/tribal guardianship programs, in regards to eligibility and benefits, since they are funded through the State only.

  • Does the guardianship assistance program differ from the adoption assistance program? Yes
  • If so, how does it differ? There is no reimbursement for legal fees and there are no special services available. Medical coverage for out of state children is dependent upon the rules for eligibility through their state of residence. In addition, adoption subsidy monthly payments are higher. Medicaid is available for adoption subsidy if family lives outside of Arizona. Special services are not available to guardianship subsidy families.


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

Child must have been declared the subject of Permanent Guardianship order through Juvenile Court and any other benefits awarded to child do not exceed the amount of guardianship subsidy rate.


Do families have to meet a kinship definition to receive guardianship assistance? If yes, how is kinship defined?

No, they do not.


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