Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Illinois

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:

  • One year of age or older
  • Irreversible or non-correctable physical mental or emotional disability
  • Physical, mental, or emotional disability correctable through surgery, treatment, or other specialized services
  • Member of a sibling group being adopted together where at least one child meets one of the other criteria listed here
  • Being adopted by adoptive parents who have previously adopted, with adoption assistance, another child born of the same mother or father


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 $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.)

Illinois does not offer deferred adoption assistance. However, Illinois does offer Conditional Adoption Assistance. To be eligible for conditional adoption assistance, the child must meet all of the eligibility requirements for adoption assistance and have a documented disability or risk factor not evident at the time of the adoption but that may require intervention, treatment or services in the future.


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

The adoption assistance agreement shall be signed prior to the entry of the final order of adoption. The payment shall not exceed the amount the child receives in his or her current foster family upon entry of the final order of the adoption unless the child is an unlicensed relative placement. In such a case, upon entry of a final order or adoption, the adoptive family may receive the applicable licensed foster family home rate.


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?

Prior to finalization, adoption assistance agreements may be modified at any time in writing if signed by the adoptive parents and the regional administrator or his/her designee.

The adoptive parents may request a change in their child’s subsidy due to a change in the family or child’s circumstances. All changes and/or services are subject to periodic review and authorization by the department. Following the adoption finalization, the agreement may be amended or terminated with mutual agreement of the adoptive parent(s). Amendments to the agreement must be completed by the Subsidy Unit staff. An amendment to increase the ongoing monthly payment may be made only when authorized by the Post Adoption/Guardianship Services Review Committee.

Adoptive parents have the right to appeal any requested service that is denied.


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

Postadoption services in Illinois are administered by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and through several State-funded, State-contracted, and family organizations. Regional contact information can be found on the DCFS website.

The Midwest Adoption Center offers search and reunion services.

Both Prospective and Adoptive Parents may contact the Illinois' Statewide Post Adoption toll-free number by dialing: 1-866-538-8892 or 312-808-5250. See also the Illinois Post Adoption and Guardianship Services publication.

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


What mental health services are provided by your State?

The Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership (ICMHP) is the only statewide, public/private partnership of policymakers and advocates in Illinois committed to improving the scope, quality, and access of mental health programs, services, and supports for children.

The Screening, Assessment and Support Services (SASS) initiative is a cooperative partnership between the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and the Department of Human Services (DHS). The development of the tri-department SASS program created a single, statewide system to serve children experiencing a mental health crisis whose care will require public funding from one of the three agencies. This program features a single point of entry (Crisis and Referral Entry Service, CARES) for all children entering the system and ensures that children receive crisis services in the most appropriate setting. If families are in need of SASS Services or experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact the CARES line at 1-800-345-9049.

The Division of Mental Health (DMH) operates as the single state mental health authority. DMH provides a wide variety of mental health services, offered through Community Mental Health Centers, and is a key partner alongside HFS and DCFS in the state’s Screening, Assessment, and Support Services (SASS) program for children. DMH acts as one of the Certifying State Agencies for Community Mental Health Centers and is one of the primary funders of mental health services for children and adults at all levels of care throughout the state.

Contact your county Medicaid specialist to determine eligibility, availability and duration of services. Illinois’s Department of Healthcare and Family Services Children’s Support Services and Mental Health Crisis Services for Youth.

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?

Illinois has a Needs Not Payable through Other Sources assistance. Payment may be made for physical, emotional and mental health needs not payable through insurance or public resource (e.g., other State or community funded programs) that are associated with, or result from, a condition whose onset has been established occurring prior to the entry of the final order of adoption. Payment shall not be made until the Department has been notified in writing that such services will begin and has approved the requested services, and a contract (when applicable has been executed. The Department’s reimbursement shall be limited to what are usual, customary, and reasonable based on Medicaid-eligible service rate in the community as determined by the Department. The Department will not pay for physical, emotional, medical, mental health or psychological services or treatment for a pre-existing condition or risk factors unless the pre-existing condition, service or risk factor is included in the adoption assistance agreement or can be documented as a pre-existing condition that was unknown at the time of the agreement by a medical provider.

Therapeutic Day Care is available only for children who are determined to have a disability that requires special educational services through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), and Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP), or a 504 Education Special Needs Plan and is not fundable through another source. Specific therapeutic interventions must be provided as an integral part of the day care programming. Payment for therapeutic day care shall not made until the Department has been notified in writing that such services will begin, has approved the requested services, and a contract has been executed (when applicable).

Employment Related Day Care for children under the age of three years may be made if the adoptive parent is employed or in a training program that will lead to employment. Payment for day care services shall end on the child’s third birthday. This day care payment cannot be used in addition to therapeutic day care.


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.)

If a family believes their rights under an adoption assistance or subsidized guardianship agreement have been violated in some way, an Administrative Appeal may be available. Adoptive parent (s) may appeal the Department’s decision to change or terminate assistance in accordance with 90 Ill. Adm. Code, Part 337, Service Appeal Process. A written appeal must be filed within 45 calendar days of the department’s determination.

Administrative Hearings Unit
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
406 E. Monroe Street
Station #15
Springfield, IL 62701-1495


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

Yes, for children who are IV-E eligible.

  • Does the guardianship assistance program differ from the adoption assistance program? Yes
  • If so, how does it differ? Adoption assistance does not need to be with kin or fictive kin. With adoption you must have termination of parental rights and with guardianship this is not a necessary requirement.


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

A child who is eligible for title IV-E assistance must be placed with a kin or fictive kin guardian or with a sibling who is related to the guardian.


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

Yes. Kin is defined as someone who is biologically related to the child(ren) who is under guardianship. Fictive kin is identified as someone who is close to the family and is similar to kin, such as godparents, "aunts & uncles", familiar neighbors or providers that the child feel safe with and has an attachment to.


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