Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Montana

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?")

In order to be eligible for State-funded adoption assistance a child must be under the placement and care responsibility of the State of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and meet the criteria for special needs as defined below:

  • Six years of age or older
  • A member of a minority group
  • A member of a sibling group of two or more children placed together for adoption
  • Diagnosed as having a physical, mental or emotional disability
  • Recognized to be at high risk of developing a physical, mental or emotional disability
  • If applicable, the child meets requirements for Supplemental Security Income
  • Under 18 years of age at the time the subsidized adoption agreement is signed and the time the adoption is finalized
  • Legally free for adoption (cannot or should not be returned to the home of his or her parents)
  • Adoptive placement is in the child's best interest and the division has determined that reasonable, but unsuccessful, efforts have been made to place the child with appropriate pre-adoptive parents without a subsidy, except where it would be against his/her best interests due to the existence of significant emotional ties with pre-adoptive parent(s) while in the care of such parent(s) as a child in foster care.


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 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.)

Montana offers deferred adoption assistance.


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

After the subsidy agreement has been signed, subsidy payments and Medicaid may begin at the time of the adoptive placement or after the adoption has been finalized and central office has received a certified copy of the decree of adoption.


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 or the Department of Public Health and Human Services, Child and Family Services Division (CFSD) can request a change in the adoption assistance agreement any time there is a change in the needs of the child or in family circumstance or an increase in the foster care rate the child would have received if he or she were were in foster care. All changes to the adoption assistance agreement must have the concurrence of the adoptive family.

Requests for change should be made in writing. If parents want to renegotiate an existing subsidy they should contact the adoption negotiations program manager, who will then make a recommendation for a change in the terms of the existing subsidy. Requests for financial subsidy renegotiation will be discussed with the permanency planning specialist or regional administrator to determine if there might be resources or services available in lieu of or in conjunction with a change in the child’s adoption subsidy rate. Contact information for these individuals may be found in the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Directory, Child and Family Services Divisions, Program Bureau.


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

Postadoption services are available to families who adopt children through the Montana Child and Family Services (CFS). For information, contact the appropriate CFS local office.

Postadoption services requests should be referred to the regional Permanency Planning Specialist who will assess the situation and work with the family.

Funding for respite services may be available through the Lifespan Respite Grant; applications are available through the Montana Lifespan Respite Coalition .

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


What mental health services are provided by your State?

State funded mental health services for children under age 18 are administered through the Children's Mental Health Bureau of the Developmental Services Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Public mental health for children in Montana includes the following examples: inpatient and outpatient hospital care, outpatient community mental health centers, outpatient psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, physician services, residential treatment, and prescription drugs.

See Mental Health information links:

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?



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 have applied for or been granted adoption assistance for their child can appeal a denial or other negative or adverse determination pertaining to the amount, duration or continuation of adoption assistance benefits. Adoptive parents who wish to contest any negative or adverse decision must send a written request for hearing received by the Office of Administrative Hearings within ninety days of the mailing date of the notice of the contested action.

After the request for a hearing is received, the Office of Fair Hearings will assign a hearing examiner and send a notice giving the date, time and place of the hearing. The hearing may be held by telephone or in person. The notice will also provide additional information on what is needed to prepare for the hearing and who to contact if the family needs to change the date or time of the hearing. Parents can represent themselves or have a lawyer or another individual assist them in presenting their case and are permitted to bring witnesses. The hearing examiner will record the hearing so that the facts are taken down correctly. Parents can request a free copy of the tape by contacting the Office of Fair Hearing after the hearing decision is issued. The written decision will explain how to appeal if the family disagrees with the decision. Send requests to the following address:

Office of Fair Hearings
2401 Colonial Drive, 3rd Floor
Helena, Montana 59620-2953


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.


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

Eligibility criteria for the Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program are defined in the Montana State Plan.


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

A kinship guardian is:

  • A member of the child’s extended family
  • A member of the child’s or family’s tribe (documentation of tribal membership or affiliation)
  • The child’s godparents
  • The child’s stepparents
  • A person to whom the child, child’s parents and family ascribe a family relationship and with whom the child has had a significant emotional tie that existed prior to the agency’s involvement with the child or family (also known as “fictive kin”)
  • NOTE: Documentation demonstrating that the prospective guardian meets the “fictive kin” definition must be maintained in the child’s case file. Documentation may include but is not limited to the child’s and/or birth parent(s)’ statement ascribing a family relationship and significant emotional tie that existed prior to the agency’s involvement.

A non-kinship guardian is:

  • A person to whom the child or child’s family did not have a significant emotional tie that existed prior to the agency’s involvement with the child or family. (i.e. foster parent)
  • NOTE: A non-kinship guardian is not eligible for Title IV-E guardianship subsidy regardless of the child’s eligibility.

More information may be found in the Child and Family Services Policy Manual addressing Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program Subsidized Guardianship.


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