Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Oklahoma

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:

  • Physical disability. The child has a physical condition that adversely affects his or her day-to-day motor functioning
  • Intellectual disability. The child has a significantly sub-average, general cognitive capacity and/or motor-functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior, manifested during the developmental period adversely affecting socialization and learning
  • Age and type of placement. Eligibility based on the child's age and type of placement is determined according to:
    • Kinship placement. There is no age requirement when the child is placed with a relative who meets the specified degree of relationship
    • Non-related placement. When no other special needs are determined, the child must be 8 years of age and older
  • Sibling relationship.
    • The child is part of a sibling group
  • Emotional disorder. A child with an emotional disorder exhibits one or more of the following characteristics over an extended period of time and to a marked degree, including:
    • An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships
    • Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances
    • A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression or
    • A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal problems
  • Racial or ethnic factor. The child is American Indian, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, or African American and 3 years of age and older
  • High risk of emotional disorder or physical or intellectual disability.


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.)

$1,200 per child for documented actual expenses.


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.)

Oklahoma offers deferred adoption assistance. It is referred to as “Agreement only” adoption assistance. Children must meet the special needs criteria or be at risk of developing a special need, and the adoptive family must apply prior to adoption finalization. The application process for deferred adoption assistance is the same as it is for adoption assistance, except that the family indicates on the application that they are requesting “Agreement only” adoption assistance; they will not receive benefits at the present time but are eligible to receive benefits in the future if needed.


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

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin in Oklahoma at adoption finalization or at adoption placement, depending on circumstances. If Oklahoma foster parents who receive foster care maintenance payments for a child adopt the child, agreements are set up to begin the day of finalization and foster care payments continue until the day before finalization. In other situations, families may request payment at the time the child is placed with them for 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?

The adoption assistance payment amount may be readjusted periodically when warranted by a change in circumstances and with the concurrence of the adoptive parent(s). The parent(s) can request a modification of the adoption assistance agreement at any time. Typical requests are for an increase due to a change in circumstances or for difficulty of care. All requests must be made in writing.

  • Modification Based on a Change of Circumstances Parents may request an increase based on a change of circumstances, such as the age of a child. However, age increases are not automatic for adoption assistance payments. The request will need to be made in writing and may be stated as a request for the “maximum assistance allowed” for the child’s age.
  • Modification Based on Difficulty of Care (DOC) DOC payments may be requested in addition to the standard monthly adoption assistance payments. Renegotiation or modification of a child’s adoption assistance agreement may be requested when a child needs more medical, behavioral mental health or special services. A request for DOC must include a written statement from the adoptive parent(s) that includes an explanation of the child’s medical condition, behavioral problems, mental illness or disability. The request must also be accompanied by a current statement (within 6 months of the request) signed by a licensed physician, psychiatrist, or clinical psychologist describing the condition, including diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. Updated documentation may be required by the Department of Human Services from time-to-time to establish a child’s ongoing eligibility for a particular DOC support rate. All requests may be forwarded to:

    Oklahoma Department of Human Services
    Post Adoption Services
    P.O. Box 25352
    Oklahoma City, OK 73125


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

Post-adoption services in Oklahoma are administered by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), Children and Family Services Division and private and parent groups.

One Church, One Child of Oklahoma is a nationally recognized special recruitment program designed to find parents for African-American children who need permanent homes. One Church, One Child of Oklahoma is sponsored by DHS in partnership with the One Church, One Child statewide Ministerial Advisory Council. Contact One Church, One Child of Oklahoma by phone: 800.865.0225 via this contact form.

For more information, please find your Post Adoption Services worker in the Post Adoption Key Personnel list.

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate: Oklahoma'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 in Oklahoma are provided through Title XIX (Medicaid) which is administered by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), the State's Medicaid agency. Eligibility for Medicaid is determined by OKDHS. Oklahoma offers all medical services compensable through the state’s Title XIX fee for service program. Examples of services Medicaid offers are mental health services (psychological/psychiatric services, emotional/psychological/behavioral counseling), outpatient and inpatient hospitalization, substance abuse services and prescription drugs. Some services require prior authorization by the OKHCA. A listing of behavioral health providers and treatment centers in Oklahoma that accept Medicaid can be found on the website of the OKHCA. The Oklahoma Medicaid Program is SoonerCare. You may contact the Sooner Care helpline by calling: 1-800-652-2010.

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?

Oklahoma offers what is known as Special Services. A special service is usually a one-time payment and is used to meet a child’s needs that cannot be met by the adoptive parents and are not covered under any other program for which the child would qualify. These services may include corrective medical equipment, such as leg braces, prostheses and walkers. Adoptive parents must first seek and exhaust all resources, both public and private, before Special Services are available.

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.)

Adoptive parents can request a fair hearing, at any time, whenever an Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Children and Family Services Division (CFSD) decision affects their adoption assistance application or their child’s adoption assistance benefits. Parents are provided with documentation of the Agency's decision and are given the opportunity to request either a fair hearing, or an administrative review of the decision.

Fair hearing requests regarding adverse decisions on adoption assistance payments are filed within 30 days of the date of the written notice of the adverse action per Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:75-15-128. The appellant is given access, prior to the date of the hearing, to any information to be used in the hearing. The decision will be made by the Appeals Committee. The Appeals Committee is made up of the hearing officer and two OKDHS State office employees who were not involved in the action you are appealing. Any information acquired after the notice of the adverse decision and after the request for the fair hearing may be used in the hearing process provided the appellant is notified of this information and of the intent to use it. Such information is made available to the appellant ten days prior to the hearing date. If the appeal is decided against the appellant, he/she may ask the Director of OKDHS to review the hearing decision. The Appeals Committee letter will explain how to do this. For information about the Fair Hearing process please review the OKDHS pamphlet.


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? A family must meet specific criteria for assistance.


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

Eligibility criteria for subsidized guardianship benefits are illustrated in detail in the Oklahoma Administrative Code.


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

Relatives' requirements for subsidized guardianship benefits are illustrated in detail in the Oklahoma Administrative Code.


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