Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - South Carolina

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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:

  • African American or of blended racial heritage and 6 years of age or older
  • Caucasian and 10 years of age or older
  • African American or of blended racial heritage and a member of a sibling group of two or more children placed together, one of whom is at least 6 years of age
  • African American or of blended racial heritage and a member of a sibling group of three or more children of any age placed together
  • Caucasian and a member of a sibling group or three or more children placed together, one of whom is at least 6 years of age
  • Caucasian and a member of a sibling group of four or more children of any age placed together
  • Member of a sibling group of two or more children placed together, one of whom is a special needs child
  • A child with a physical, mental or emotional handicap or a child at risk for physical, mental or emotional handicaps due to a condition existing before adoption

 

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.)

$1500

 

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.)

South Carolina offers deferred adoption assistance. If a child does not meet the definition of a child with special needs prior to adoptive placement, but is at risk of developing such special needs due to his/her genetic history or trauma prior to entering foster care, an adoption assistance agreement may be signed with the adoptive parent(s) for a zero dollar amount of assistance. If a medical, physical, or mental condition develops at a later date which could be related to the risk determined prior to the adoption, adoption assistance may be instated at the time the agency determines these conditions meet the special needs criteria. The payment may begin and is based upon the child’s previous eligibility for foster care board payment at the time of the adoptive placement.

 

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

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin in South Carolina at adoption placement.

 

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 modification in the adoption assistance agreement whenever there is a change in the family’s circumstances or the needs of the child. If the child is found to have a preexisting condition after the adoption assistance agreement is finalized, the agreement may be amended to include the condition. A written request detailing the need for change must be submitted to the adoption assistance worker or the special needs administrator for review. Medical or therapeutic documentation from a therapist or physician supporting the need must accompany the request for modification. Proof of mental or physical handicap that warrants a continuation of assistance is necessary when the child reaches their eighteenth birthday. Specific contact information for county offices may be found on the Department of Social Services website. A parent can appeal an adverse decision by contacting the Office of Administrative Hearings. Details may be found in the question/answer about Fair Hearings.

 

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

Post-adoption services in South Carolina are available through the Department of Social Services (DSS), private agencies, and family organizations. DSS has contracted with the South Carolina Foster Parent Association to provide services such as information, referrals, and training for adoptive parents.

South Carolina has an Adoption Preservation (AP) program to serve adoptive families. AP services primarily consist of linking families to existing resources, case management, support services, and counseling.

A State agency known as South Carolina Protection and Advocacy also helps adoptive families manage systemic issues.

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate South Carolina'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 South Carolina are administered by the Department of Mental Health (DMH), Division of Children, Adolescents and Their Families (DCAF) and include the following examples: assessment, case management services, day treatment, out-patient treatment (counseling/therapy), in-patient hospitalization, wraparound services, residential treatment services (in-patient general psychiatric and substance abuse units), school-based services, and Intensive Family Services and Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) Initiatives.

Services are largely provided through the DMH’s network of local community mental health centers. DMH seeks to provide services in as natural and comfortable a setting for the family and child as possible, such as in the school or home. DMH’s vision is to develop a statewide system of services that is child centered, family focused, community based, and culturally competent.

See the website of the Division of Child, Adolescent, and Family Services (CAF) for detailed program information.

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?

Supplemental Benefits for Medical Assistance (SBMA) is available for conditions that preexisted adoption finalization. Adoptive families must determine the amount of the supplement and request this benefit at the time the adoption assistance agreement is drafted and signed. SBMA is available to meet children’s physical, emotional, and psychological needs unable to be met under any other resource, public or private. Availability is limited to children placed through the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

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 whenever there is disagreement with a Department of Social Services (DSS) decision that affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. Requests for fair hearing must be in writing and sent to the Office of Administrative Hearings and Individual and Provider Rights (OAH) within thirty days of a family’s receipt of an adverse DSS decision. OAH will usually schedule a hearing within ninety days (between thirty and ninety) after the initial request for fair hearing. A three-member committee consisting of a hearing officer and two members appointed by the State DSS Director conducts hearings. Final decisions are issued within thirty days from the conclusion of the hearing and sent by certified mail to the adoptive parents.

See South Carolina’s fair hearing application form.

Send written requests for fair hearing to the address below or phone: 800.311.7220 or TTY 800.311.7219 for information.

South Carolina Department of Social Services
Individual and Provider Rights
Office of Administrative Hearings
P.O. Box 1520
Columbia, South Carolina 29202-1520

 

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

South Carolina does not have a guardianship assistance program.

 

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

N/A

 

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

N/A

 

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