Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Arkansas

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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 child that has at least one of the following needs or circumstances that may be a barrier to placement or adoption without financial assistance:

  • Two years of age or older and a child of color
  • Nine years of age or older and Caucasian
  • Member of any sibling group being placed together who share at least one biological parent and who have either lived together or otherwise developed a bond prior to adoptive placement
  • Severe medical or psychological needs that require ongoing rehabilitation or treatment
  • At high risk for the development of a serious physical, mental or emotional condition, if a medical professional specializing in the area provides documentation of the condition for which the child is considered at risk.

 

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.)

$1,500 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.)

Arkansas offers deferred adoption assistance.

 

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

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin in Arkansas at adoption finalization.

 

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?

Parents can request changes to the adoption assistance agreement at any time. Parents must submit a written request and show a material change in circumstances in the adoptive family to amend an adoption assistance agreement. Material changes in the circumstances include, but are not limited to: different medical problems or a change in the type of condition of the child or a significant change in household. The State may renegotiate an adoption assistance agreement if the adoptive parents request an increase in payment due to a change in their circumstances and a higher foster care rate would have been paid on behalf of the child if the child had still been in foster care.

To request a change, the local Department of Child and Family Services area adoption specialist works with the adoptive parent and submits a request (amendment) for an increase to the adoption field services supervisor for review and comments. The adoption field supervisor will forward the packet to the adoption field services manager for approval. The adoption field services manager will submit the packet to the adoption assistance coordinator.

 

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

Post adoption services in Arkansas are administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) through DCFS contracted agencies and parent organizations.

For more information, visit the DCFS Post Adoption Resources webpage.

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Arkansas' 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 Arkansas are administered by the Department of Human Services through the Division of Behavioral Health. Specialized programs for children with serious emotional disturbance are available. Services include the following examples: interagency service coordination, individual and group outpatient psychological counseling, short-term crisis intervention, day treatment, wraparound services, and prescription drugs.

  • Inpatient Psychiatric Program: Services are publicly funded through Medicaid and cover inpatient psychiatric services for children less than twenty-one years of age. Psychiatric treatment must be considered medically necessary and requires prior authorization before services can be received.
  • Alternative Community Services: Services include case management, respite services, integrated supports, and consultation services.

The Division of Aging, Adult, & Behavioral Health Services provides an integrated system of public mental health care and alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention and treatment services to Arkansas residents. The DBHS provides the majority of direct mental health services throughout the State by contracting with 13 community mental health centers (CMHCs) and 2 specialty clinics. DBHS staff are available for consultation and education regarding behavioral health issues.

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?

Arkansas offers a program known as a Special Subsidy. Funding is available to pay for services related to the special needs for which adoption assistance was granted. Funding is only available when no other resource or benefit, private or public, exists to meet the needs of the child. Services include the following examples: psychological services (testing, family/individual therapy), therapy (physical/speech), medical and surgical services, medications, and corrective physical devices.

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 when they disagree with a DCFS decision that affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. If an initial application for adoption assistance is denied, the adoption assistance coordinator will send a written notice by certified mail to the prospective adoptive parents. The notice advises parents that they have ten working days to send a written request to the Director of DCFS seeking an appeal of the decision. The Director then has ten working days to reply by certified mail to the adoptive parent. If the Director upholds the denial, the family has ten working days to appeal to the Appeals and Hearings Administration Section.

Requests to Appeals and Hearings for a fair hearing/administrative hearing must be made in writing within thirty calendar days of receiving an adverse action from DCFS. Requests should be sent to the Department of Human Services at the address listed below. The Appeals and Fair Hearing Section will notify DCFS that an appeal has been filed. An Investigative File will be prepared immediately and made available to the adoptive parent (petitioner), any representative they choose to bring to the hearing, the Office of Chief Counsel Attorney, and the Appeals and Hearing Section (AHS). The AHS will send out a notice of hearing which contains the time, date, and place of the hearing and the name of the hearing officer who will conduct the hearing. Hearings usually take place in the county of residence of the child, but hearing may be held in other locations for substantiated reasons. If an adoptive parent does not appear at a scheduled hearing and does not contact the Appeals and Hearing Section prior to the date of the hearing, the appeal will be abandoned. Send requests for a fair hearing to the following address:

Department of Human Services, Office of Chief Counsel
Appeals and Hearings Administration Section
P.O. Box 1437, Slot N401
Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-1437

 

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

Yes, Arkansas offers a guardianship assistance program.

 

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