Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Maine

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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:

  • Physical, mental or emotional handicap that makes placement difficult
  • Medical condition that makes placement difficult
  • Member of a sibling group to be placed together includes at least one member who is difficult to place and meets one or more of criteria
  • Age 5 or older
  • Difficult to place because of race
  • Victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect that places the child at risk for future emotional difficulties
  • Has a family background that includes severe mental illness, substance abuse, prostitution, genetic or medical conditions or illnesses that place the child at risk for future problems

 

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.)

One-time expense, not to exceed $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.)

Maine offers Retroactive Adoption Assistance and One Payment Assistance.

Retroactive Adoption Assistance refers to adoption assistance approved by the department for special needs children who are adopted without adoption assistance and are later determined to be eligible.

One Payment Assistance which is a one-time, not recurring payment to meet a special need of the child.

 

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

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin in Maine at adoption placement after the plan has been approved and the written agreement has been signed by the commissioner of the department or designee.

 

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 are responsible for notifying the department of any changes in the needs of the child, the circumstances of the family, or other benefits available for the child’s support that may affect their eligibility for assistance or the amount(s) required. Families may request a subsidy after the finalization of an adoption under certain circumstances. For information, please contact the Office of Child and Family Services by calling: (207) 624-7900.

Any individual who has applied for or is receiving adoption assistance, (or whose application for assistance is not acted upon with reasonable promptness), is entitled to appeal the denial, reduction or termination of adoption assistance made by the department. To appeal a decision, a written request for a fair hearing must be made to the commissioner or his designee within 10 days of the decision. The exception to this appeal process is when the department undertakes a system wide, across the board increase or reduction in the payment systems, rates, or criteria.

 

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

Some of the postadoption services in Maine are administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) through an eight-district system of DHHS and parent-sponsored programs. Other agencies also provide such services to adoptive families.

Maine's philosophy is that adoption is a lifelong experience and the needs of the adoptive family change over time. Children placed through DHHS, who have their permanency needs met through adoption, should have access to ongoing support through information and resources, as needed, throughout their lives. Agency services should remain available to adoptive families after legalization of adoption upon request of the adoptive family and as resources permit.

A listing of resources and services available can be found on the DHHS website.

Other organizations that offer post adoption assistance are:

Respite services may be available through the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Maine Family Respite Program.

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Maine'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 up to age 21 in Maine are administered through the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Child and Family Services, Children's Behavioral Health program. Children's Behavioral Health, link: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/cbhs/programs.shtml.

Children's Behavioral health services include:

  • Rehabilitative and Community Support Services for Children with Cognitive Impairments and Functional Limitations
  • Case Management-MaineCare*
  • Crisis Services
  • Outpatient-MaineCare*
  • Medication Management-MaineCare*
  • Home & Community Treatment Services (HCT-MaineCare*)
  • Intense 24/7 symptom management and supports in home, school and community
  • Assertive Community Treatment (ACT-MaineCare*)
  • Intensive Temporary Residential Treatment (ITRT)
  • NAMI Maine Family Respite

The Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) supports Maine's children and their families by providing Children's Behavioral Health, Child Welfare, Early Intervention & Prevention Services, and Operations.

Service Areas of the Office of Child and Family Service:

Children's Behavioral Health Services - Children's Behavioral Health services focus on behavioral health treatment and services for children from birth up to their 21st birthday. Services include providing information and assistance with referrals for children and youth with developmental disabilities/delays, intellectual disability, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and mental health disorders.

Early Intervention & Prevention Services - OCFS early intervention and prevention services seek to promote the health, well-being and safety of children and families by reducing the risk and effect of adverse childhood experiences (such as neglect, trauma, or exposure to violence). Administering best practice services that create a community of caring for intergenerational members focused on increasing protective factors such as health, education, safety promotion, social connections and family strengthening supports.

For more information regarding behavioral health services please visit the Office of Child and Family 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?

Maine offers the following additional services to children receiving adoption assistance. The services must be explicitly identified in the adoption assistance agreement if the needs are known at the time. It is possible to modify agreements with Central office approval to include specified services after the adoption assistance agreement is drafted.

Supplemental Services. Severely handicapped children are eligible for supplemental services, including therapeutic equipment not covered under state Medicaid, therapeutic summer camp (upon professional recommendation) and education beyond high school depending on annual funding allocations.

Limited Period Assistance. May be a monthly payment for a limited period of time, or a payment (on a recurring basis for a specified period of time) for medical or mental health costs, such as orthodontia, medical treatment, physical and mental health therapy, etc., or, if the child meets relevant criteria, educational benefits.

One-Payment Assistance. A one-time, nonrecurring payment can be made to meet a special need of a child. Examples include payment for an operation necessitated by a child's medical condition or payment for special orthopedic 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.)

Any individual who has applied for or is receiving adoption assistance, (or whose application for assistance is not acted upon with reasonable promptness), is entitled to appeal the denial, reduction or termination of adoption assistance made by the Department. To appeal a decision, a written request for a fair hearing must be made to the Commissioner or his designee within 10 days of the decision. The exception to this appeal process is when the Department undertakes a system wide, across the board increase or reduction in the payment systems, rates, or criteria.

You will get a written decision, by mail, from the Hearing Officer approximately 30 days after the hearing is closed.

The decision may take one of two forms. For most hearings, the Hearing Officer's written decision is the final agency action. For some hearings, the Hearing Officer's written decision will be a "Recommended Decision." In this type of case, the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services will have the final say, and will issue a written "Final Decision."

If you do not agree with the final decision of the Hearing Officer, you can appeal the decision within 30 days, to the Superior Court. If you do not agree with the "Recommended Decision" of the Hearing Officer, you have 15 to 20 days (depending on the type of case) to write to the Commissioner to explain your exceptions to the Recommended Decision. If you do not agree with the Final Decision of the Commissioner, you can appeal the decision within 30 days, to the Superior Court.

FOR MORE INFORMATION - WRITE OR CALL

Maine Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Administrative Hearings
244 Water Street
11 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0011
Phone: (207) 624-5350

 

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 in benefits or eligibility between IV-E and State/territorial/tribal guardianship programs.

  • Does the guardianship assistance program differ from the adoption assistance program? No

 

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

A child who is placed in a permanency guardianship or in a similar status by a Native American tribe, when reasonable but unsuccessful efforts have been made to place the child without guardianship subsidies and if the child would not be placed in a permanency guardianship without the assistance of the program.

 

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

Definition includes foster parents, relative and fictive kin.

 

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