Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Idaho

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?")

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:

  • The child has a physical, mental, emotional or medical disability, or is at risk of developing such disability based upon the child’s experience of documented physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, or neglect
  • The child’s age makes it difficult to find an adoptive home
  • The child is being placed for adoption with at least one (1) sibling
  • The child has not been able to be placed without adoption assistance (attempts at placement for adoption were made, but were unsuccessful), except where it would be against the best interests of the child


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.)

Up to $2,000.00 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.)

Idaho offers deferred assistance. Payments and benefits are established under 'Agreement Only' assistance where no benefits are paid at the adoptive family’s request. This type of agreement allows families to return to the State at a later date to open the adoption assistance case to obtain benefits and services needed at that time.


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

Adoption assistance agreements go into effect at adoption finalization or at the time the child is placed. If a child is placed out of State for adoption, adoption assistance benefits may begin as early as the time of adoptive 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?

Adoptive parents can request a change in the adoption assistance agreement whenever there is a change in the circumstances of the family or the needs of the child. Adoption assistance benefits can be modified at any time prior to the child’s 18th birthday. Requests must be made in writing and submitted to the Regional Department of Health and Welfare office if the family resides in Idaho. If the family resides outside of the State, requests must be made to the State adoption assistance office. Information detailing the change in the child’s needs must accompany the request in addition to supporting documentation from professional service providers. If the change is due to a change in family circumstance, families must provide written documentation of changes in family income or circumstances. Adoption assistance agreements are reviewed annually to provide a yearly opportunity for adoptive families to determine if they need to request changes to the child’s benefits. Families are able to request a fair hearing if they disagree with the response to a requested change by contacting their local DWH office.


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

Postadoption services are provided within available resources. Children with negotiated adoption assistance agreements, whether from Idaho or from another State, are eligible for any services available to Idaho children. International adoptees residing in Idaho are also eligible for any services available to Idaho children under the Inter-Country Adoption of 200 (P.L. 106-279).

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) is organized into seven regions, each region serving several counties. Postadoption services are arranged through contact with the regional Children and Family Services offices or at the State adoption assistance office in Boise, ID. On the DHW website, Idaho foster and adoptive families will find specific resources including a list of multiple programs and services available to children and families.

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

Optum is responsible for management of the Idaho Behavioral Health Plan, which includes outpatient mental health and substance use services for adults and children who are enrolled in Idaho Medicaid. Questions regarding eligibility, coverage, and services can be addressed by accessing the Optum Hello Idaho! website or calling the Member Questions/Member Crisis Line Call (Toll-Free 24/7) at (855) 202-0973.

The Children’s Mental Health Program is a partner in the development of a community-based System of Care for children with a serious emotional disturbance (SED) and their families. The program provides services and supports that increase the capacity for children with an SED and their families to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their community. For more information about the Idaho System of Care and services and support available in your area, call the Idaho Care-Line by dialing 211 or 1-800-926-2588 or your local Health and Welfare office.

The Idaho Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, an Idaho-based family-run organization is designed to serve families with children who are living with a mental health diagnosis. Please call 1-800-905-3436 or visit their website to learn more and to get involved.

The State of Idaho provides State funded and operated community based mental health care services through Regional Behavioral Health Centers (RBHC) located in each of the seven geographical regions of the State. Each RBHC provides mental health services through a system of care that is both community-based and consumer-guided. See:

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?

Idaho does not provide additional finances or services for medical or therapeutic needs not covered under the state medical plan to children receiving adoption assistance. Medical or therapeutic needs not covered under the state medical plan must be negotiated as part of the Adoption Assistance Agreement, or as an Amendment to the Agreement. Benefits must receive prior authorization from the State Adoption Assistance office before service delivery.

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 can request a fair hearing when a family receives a written decision denying eligibility or requests for benefits or whenever there is disagreement with a DHW decision that affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. A written letter detailing the fair hearing process is included with every adverse decision notice sent to the adoptive family and includes an application for fair hearing.

The written request for fair hearing must be filed with the Administrative Hearings Office within 30 days of the mailing of the denial of benefits or services. All information on how to file and request the hearing is included with the fair hearing request form sent with the adverse decision notice. The hearing process itself can be conducted in the local Children and Family Services office or by telephone. The family does not have to appear in person at the hearing if they choose a telephone hearing. Families may represent themselves or may bring an advocate(s) to the hearing if they choose. The hearing officer receives written and verbal testimony from all parties and then renders a decision in writing that is sent to the adoptive family. Requests for fair hearing are made by written request.

Submit a Fair Hearing Requests to the following:
Fax to: (208) 639-5741
e-mail to:

Department of Health and Welfare
Administrative Hearings Section
450 W. State Street, 10th Floor
Boise, Idaho 83720-0036


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.

  • Does the guardianship assistance program differ from the adoption assistance program? Yes
  • If so, how does it differ? Special Conditions (i.e. specific supports) can be included in a child's adoption assistance agreement, but are not available in guardianship assistance agreements.


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

To be eligible for Title IV-E guardianship program:

  • Child (or one child in a sibling group being placed for guardianship in the same home as the eligible sibling) must be aged 14 years or older
  • Child must have been placed in foster care with required judicial language Child must have been IV-E eligible for foster care for 6 consecutive months in the home of the prospective legal guardian(s)
  • Child must have been consulted regarding the guardianship plan
  • Child must demonstrate a strong attachment to the prospective guardian
  • Adoption and reunification must have been ruled out as appropriate permanency options

To be eligible for State funded guardianship assistance:

  • Child must have been found ineligible for IV-E guardianship assistance
  • Child’s parental rights must have been terminated
  • There must be documented unsuccessful attempts to place the child for adoption Detailed information may be found in the Child and Family Services chapter, 16.06.01, of the Idaho Administrative Rule Division of Family and Community Services.


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

Yes. For the IV-E guardianship assistance program only, the prospective legal guardian must meet Idaho's definition of "relative": "A person relative to a child by blood, marriage or adoption including a child's grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, great aunt, uncle, great uncle, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, first cousin, sibling, and half-sibling."


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