Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Louisiana

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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 with a preexisting condition(s) such that it is reasonable to conclude that the child may be difficult to place in an adoptive home without the aid of subsidy. Recruitment and placement barriers are also considered. The child must have at least one of the following needs or circumstances that may be a barrier to placement or adoption without financial assistance:

  • All children, age 5 or older
  • Ethnic background
  • Membership in a sibling group of two or more children who should not be separated
  • Physical, mental or emotional disability
  • Severe chronic medical condition
  • Significant, chronic, or genetically predisposed medical or mental health risk factors in child’s birth family history

The eligibility for this type of funding is related to the income level of the family. The family’s annual gross income is compared to the income scale. In unusual or special circumstances, exceptions to the inform scale may be requested and approved the program operations manager.

 

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.)

$1,000 per child

Note: Reimbursement of non-recurring expenses at this upper limit is not automatic. The reimbursement rate is negotiated based on the usual and customary amount paid for “one-time” adoption expenses in that specific region or area.

 

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.)

Louisiana does not offer deferred adoption assistance. However, there are situations where a family adopts a special needs child without a subsidy and later decides that they should have received a subsidy based on a known or unknown pre-existing condition. After it has been determined that the condition would have made the child difficult to place in an adoptive home without the aid of a subsidy, the child would be eligible for a subsidy after the adoption had been finalized.

 

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

Adoption subsidy payments are available for an eligible child who is under the age of 18 at the time of the child's placement for adoption. Such payments may continue until the child is 18 years old. In addition, if a child is placed in another State, or if a child moves from Louisiana with his/her adopted family, the subsidy payment will continue.

 

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 families may request changes to the adoption assistance agreement at any time and whenever the needs of the child or the circumstances of the family change. Adoptive parents are directed to contact their adoption assistance worker in the region from which the child was adopted to discuss these changing circumstances and to request a modification to the adoption assistance agreement as needed. The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services directory link is: http://www.dcfs.la.gov.

Federally funded adoption assistance (title IV-E) must be reviewed at least every 5 years up until the child turns 18 years of age. State funded adoption assistance must be re-determined at least annually until the child turns 18 years of age.

 

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

Post-adoption services in Louisiana are administered by the Department of Children and Family Services, Child Welfare Division.

Family services, which include in-home services, are available on a voluntary basis upon request and are administered through the county Child Welfare offices. Refer to the Department of Children and Family Services directory of all Child Welfare Division offices statewide.

Additionally, several parent organizations offer adoption support services such as the Louisiana Foster & Adoptive Parent Association.

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

 

What mental health services are provided by your State?

The Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) manages and delivers the services and supports necessary to improve the quality of life for children with mental illness and addictive disorders.

The agency acts as monitors and subject matter consultants for the children's Coordinated System of Care program and the Medicaid Healthy Louisiana managed care plans, which manage behavioral health services. OBH also delivers direct care through hospitalization and has oversight of behavioral health community-based treatment programs through the human services districts and authorities. Services are provided for Medicaid and non-Medicaid eligible populations. For more information regarding services, please visit the Louisiana Medicaid.

 

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?

Louisiana provides additional services to meet the special pre-existing need pay for a child’s heath related expenses when these are the result of a pre-existing chronic, severe medical or mental condition and such expenses are not covered through other sources. The amount of the Special Services Subsidy will be determined after consideration of the following factors:

  • The special service is recommended by an appropriate specialist who estimates the length of time the service will be needed
  • The service needed in not available through Children’s Special Health Services, Medicaid, or some other community resource
  • Payment on a reimbursement basis will be made following the submittal of receipts. Payment cannot be for more than would be paid by Foster Care
  • The special service subsidy can be for an unspecified amount if based on the child’s age, or the complexity of the pre-existing condition, specialists have difficulty in projecting costs into the distant future

 

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 who are in disagreement with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Child Welfare (CW) decision relative to their adoption assistance application request, or who feel that their civil rights were violated in the process, may appeal the agency’s decision by requesting a fair hearing. The adoption assistance application and notification of decision provide directions for this process. The fair hearing process is thoroughly reviewed with all adoption assistance applicants by the adoption assistance worker as a matter of agency practice. The adoption assistance application form itself may be used to request a fair hearing appeal. Requests are to be made in writing by the adoptive parent within thirty days from receipt of their written notification of the agency’s final adoption assistance decision. Upon notification of the adoptive parent’s request, the Appeals Section will schedule the fair hearing and notify all concerned parties in writing of the hearing date, time and location. Adoptive parents may represent themselves at the hearing, or they may authorize someone else to assist them, such as legal counsel, relative, friend or other spokesperson. Fair Hearing decisions are binding.

Adoptive parents should send their requests directly to the following address:

Department of Children and Family Services
Appeals Section
P.O. Box 2944
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70821

 

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? The benefits are the same however the legal obligations are different.

 

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

The guardianship subsidy applies if the following criteria are met:

  • Child is in the legal custody of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
  • Child had an established familial or emotional relationship with kin prior to entering DCFS custody
  • The kinship placement provider becomes a certified foster caregiver according to the certification standards of the State
  • Child has resided in the certified kinship placement for at least six consecutive months immediately prior to entering the guardianship subsidy arrangement

Additional details may be found in the Louisiana Department of Children and Families Child Welfare Manual 6-2110 Guardianship Subsidy Eligibility Criteria.

 

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

Yes, guardian(s) with whom the child has an established familial relationship

 

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