Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - New York

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?")

Adoption subsidies are available for handicapped and hard-to-place children who are in the custody and guardianship of the local commissioner of social services, or an authorized voluntary agency in New York State, or a certified or approved foster parent. (Not every child in the guardianship and custody of a commissioner or a voluntary agency in New York State is eligible for a subsidy).

A child with special needs has at least one need or circumstance, outlined below, that may be a barrier to placement or adoption without financial assistance:

New York divides special needs into two categories “handicapped” and “hard-to-place”:

  1. Handicapped is defined a child with a specific physical, mental or emotional condition or disability of such severity or kind, which, in the opinion of the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) would constitute a significant obstacle to the child’s adoption
  2. Hard-to-place is defined as a child who has not been placed for adoption within 6 months from an adoption disruption. A child may also meet eligibility for hard-to-place if he/she has been in a placement for a specified period of time prior to signing the adoptive placement agreement or who meets certain age, sibling group, or other requirements


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.)

$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.)

New York 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 New York at adoption finalization for the majority of children. Payments may begin earlier if the child was placed with an approved adoptive parent or directly in the custody of a voluntary authorized agency by the birth parent(s).


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?

Neither the written agreement nor the amount of the payment is subject to an annual review (except whenever the applicable board rate increases due to an increase in the board rate, and/or the clothing replacement allowance or whenever a change in the age of an adopted child qualifies such child to receive adoption subsidy payments at an increased rate). However, the adoptive parent may request a review of the agreement and/or a change in the amount paid under the agreement if his/her child's medical conditions worsen. This application must be supported with current examination(s), must document the changes in child need, and must fulfill all other documentation requirements. Such review or change may be granted at the discretion of the social services official in accordance with the regulations, and subject to the approval of the department if the agreement was approved by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).

Adoptions of New York State children that occur without subsidy may be eligible for a post-finalization request for subsidy under very limited circumstances.

Both the local social services official and OCFS must review all requests for approval. If a request for change to the adoption assistance agreement is denied, the adoptive parent can request a fair hearing.

For more information, contact the New York State Adoption Service at 1-800-345-KIDS (5437) Or email OCFS at


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

Postadoption services in New York are provided by the local social services district or a voluntary authorized agency whose services have been purchased by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) or the local social services district in which the adoptive parents reside. Information about New York postadoption services is provided on the OCFS website: Post Adoption Help for Families.

New York has numerous adoption support organizations. See the following organizations for post adoption service information:

Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition
Families together in New York State

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

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your local adoption assistance worker or local post adoption services contact for information regarding process, eligibility, availability and duration of services.


What mental health services are provided by your State?

For information on specific services available in your community please see the Office of Mental Health or call (800) 597-8481.

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker or the county Department of Mental Health information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services and the specific services available in the local community as services vary by locality.


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?

New York does not provide additional finances or services for medical or therapeutic needs not covered under its state medical assistance state 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 have the right to request a fair hearing when a decision or lack of a decision by the Office of Children and Family Services or local department of social services affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. Any person affected by a decision of a social services official not to approve an adoption assistance payment, or by an inadequate or inappropriate payment amount, or the failure to issue a written disapproval of the completed agreement within thirty days after it was filed, may make a request to the OCFS for a fair hearing. The request must be made within sixty days after receipt of the written notice of disapproval of the adoption assistance or approval at a lower rate, or when more than thirty days have elapsed without a decision from the State Adoption Services. The following issues may be raised at such hearings:

  • Whether the social services official has improperly denied an application for payments to be made, including the failure of the social services official to issue a determination of an application within thirty days of its filing;
  • Whether the social services official has determined the amount of payment to be made in violation of the law; or
  • Whether the social services official has improperly discontinued payments made in the agreement.

A written notice of the hearing is sent to the prospective adoptive parents and their representatives at least six working days prior to the scheduled date of the hearing. OCFS must make a decision within thirty days after the fair hearing. Requests for a fair hearing in New York must be made in writing and addressed to:

Bureau of Special Hearings
Office of Children and Family Services
52 Washington St.
Rensselaer, New York 12144

Note: The OCFS must uphold the denial if:

  • The child for whom payments would be made is not a handicapped or hard-to-place child;
  • There is/was another approved adoptive parent(s) who is/was willing to accept the placement of the child without payment within 60 days of such denial and placement of the child with the other parent(s) would not be contrary to the best interests of the child.


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



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

Child means a person under the age of twenty-one years whose custody, care and custody, or custody and guardianship have been committed to a social services official prior to such person's eighteenth birthday.


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

Yes. "Prospective relative guardian" shall mean a person who has been caring for the child as a fully certified or approved foster parent for at least six consecutive months prior to applying for kinship guardianship assistance payments and who is:

  • Related to the child by blood, marriage or adoption, and the relationship can be to any degree of affinity
  • Related to a half sibling of the child by blood, marriage or adoption (to any degree of affinity) and is also seeking to become, or is, the guardian of such half sibling
  • An adult with a positive relationship to the child that was established prior to the child’s current foster care placement including, but not limited to, a step-parent, godparent, neighbor or family friend

"Relative guardian" shall mean a person or persons who was appointed, as a guardian or permanent guardian for a child after entering into an agreement with a social services official for the receipt of payments and services in accordance with this title.


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