Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Nebraska

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:

  • Over the age of 8 years
  • Member of a sibling group of three or more children to be placed together
  • Behavioral, emotional, physical, or mental disability, as documented by a recent report (less than 6 months old) from an appropriate, qualified professional
  • Membership in a minority race (race by itself is not sufficient to make a child eligible for subsidy);
  • The child must meet all of the following:
    • Cannot be adopted without subsidy
    • Cannot or should not be returned to the home of the legal/biological parents;
    • Is a ward of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services at the time the adoption petition is filed
    • Is age 18 or younger


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 after the legal completion of the child's adoption


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.)

Nebraska does not offer deferred adoption assistance.


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

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin in Nebraska at adoption finalization.


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 at any time. Changes may be made at the request of the adoptive family whenever there are changes in family circumstance or when a change in law or regulation indicates the need for a modification in the agreement. Requests must be made in writing to the adoption assistance worker and parents must send information substantiating the change in family circumstance to the that worker. To locate a local the assigned adoption assistance workers contact the adoption specialist by calling: (402) 471-9254.

A family has a right to appeal denial of a child’s eligibility for a subsidy, as well as changes in the subsidy agreement. Families should use forms provided by the department or a written letter, and must appeal within 90 days of the action or inaction on subsidy. No change in coverage will occur while the appeal is pending. A hearing will be held subject to the department director’s review within 6 weeks from the date of the request unless families waive the time condition. If there are no special or unusual circumstances, the director will make the decision within 60 days from the date of the request for hearing.


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

Postadoption services in Nebraska are administered by the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) through contracted agencies and parent organizations.

The Nebraska Children Home Society's Families Forever supports families who have adopted a child or entered into a guardianship in Nebraska. As a referral-based service for postadoptive and guardianship families, this program is committed to providing support for families, children, kinship caregivers, grandparents, adoptive families, and foster parents with access to community resources, support groups, and ongoing educational opportunities.

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

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker or the adoption specialist at 402.471.9331 for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.



What mental health services are provided by your State?

Treatment for mental health issues are provided to Nebraska residents with mental illness and/or problems with addiction by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Both children and adults are served. Ability to pay is not a factor; persons pay what they can afford.

Most of Nebraska’s Behavioral Health services are managed directly by six Regional Behavioral Health Authorities (RBHA) which are responsible to the counties they serve, and assure that vital services are available to persons in or near their home communities.

Visit the County mental health offices.

The Nebraska Family Help Line (1-888-866-8660) provides assistance to families 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained Helpline operators screen calls to assess immediate safety needs. Identify the potential level of a behavioral health crisis, make recommendations or referrals to appropriate resources, and help callers connect to emergency resources or providers. The Helpline is supervised by licensed mental health professionals.


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?

Nebraska offers what is known as Payment for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions. Funding is available to adoptive parents for medical or mental health services which were identified and document on the subsidy agreement before the decree and are not available through any other program or benefit. This care may include psychiatric, psychological, and mental health services, inpatient hospitalization, and care needed to teach basic life skills, sustain life, or maintain a physical/medical condition, as well as medication and prostheses. It does not include vocational training. The care or treatment must be medically necessary and provided by a medical practitioner or qualified mental health professional and/or prescribed by a physician and in the least restrictive, most family-like setting appropriate to meet the child’s needs. Payment for care is paid from non-Medicaid funds only if the care is not covered under the Medicaid program or no Medicaid provider is available in the community. Payment for services is made directly to providers. The need for services must be listed in the adoption assistance agreement and conditions cannot be added after adoption finalization.

Nebraska also offers what is known as a Special Service Subsidy. Funds are allocated on a one-time basis for a specific service or item for a specified period of time. Services or items must relate to the child’s special needs as indicated in the original adoption assistance agreement and are only available if no other program or resource exists to meet the child’s need. These services must be connected to the special need indicated on the original subsidy agreement. Examples of such services and items include legal fees for the adoption, costs of integrating the child into the adoptive family, including items such as furniture for three or more siblings placed together or where specially designed furniture is required because of a child’s disability, or training for adoptive parents in parenting a special-needs child, expenses related to modifying a home to accommodate a special-needs child, such as a ramp or widening of doors, expenses for transportation, lodging and meals for the child and one parent for the the child to received medical care/treatment for a pre-existing condition.


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 families have the right to request a fair hearing any time a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) action or inaction affects adoption assistance eligibility, the amount of payment, and/or the Department fails to act with reasonable promptness. Requests must be made to the DHHS Director in writing within ninety days of the contested action or inaction. The Director will forward this request to the Legal Division. A hearing officer will conduct the fair hearing and listen to both sides, but will not make a decision at the hearing. Parents will receive a written decision in the mail from the hearing authority within ninety days of the hearing request. Send fair hearing requests to the following address:

Director, Division of Children and Families
P.O. Box 95026
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509


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. Benefits depend on the child's individual needs.

  • Does the guardianship assistance program differ from the adoption assistance program? Yes
  • If so, how does it differ? There are differences in regards to requests for increases in daily rates or other provisions within the guardianship assistance agreement after the guardianship is finalized. There are also variations in regards to Medicaid. The main difference is the IV-E piece since many guardianships in Nebraska are not filed as guardianship assistance program "GAP".


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

A child is eligible for the subsidized guardianship program if he/she is award of the Department and meets the criteria for guardianship as follows:

  • The child has a documented behavioral, emotional, physical, or mental disability
  • The child is a member of a sibling group of three or more to be placed together
  • The child has a strong attachment to the potential guardian and has lived successfully for a minimum of six months in the home of the potential guardian
  • The child cannot return home despite all efforts to effect reunification
  • The child cannot be adopted and all attempts to terminate parental rights have failed or the termination is not in the child's best interest
  • The child is age 12 or older or, if under 12, is part of a sibling group or is attached to the proposed guardian and cannot be freed for adoption and the prospective guardian and the child can function effectively without Department supervision.


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

No. In Nebraska, guardians not related to the child are not eligible for an Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) payment for the child. Guardians who are related to the child (specified relatives) may be eligible for ADC relative payments.


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