Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Utah

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:

  • Five years of age or older
  • Member of a sibling group placed together for adoption
  • Under the age of 18 with a physical, emotional, or mental disability. A child is considered to meet this requirement if under age 5 and at risk of developing a physical, emotional, or mental disability due to specific factors identified in the child’s or birth parents’ health or social histories.


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.)



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.)

Utah offers deferred adoption assistance.


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

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin in Utah at the time of the 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?

The family or caseworker may initiate a change in the amount of subsidy based on a child’s documented level of special need or a change in the family’s ability to meet those needs and it may be renegotiated at any time. Parents can call, send a letter, or make an in-person request of their adoption assistance worker to change their adoption assistance agreement at any time. Contact the local Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) offices through the directory of offices. If the State reduces the amount of the monthly subsidy without the agreement of the family, for any reason, the family has the right to a fair hearing to appeal that reduction. The State has an obligation to notify the parent of the right to a fair hearing in the event that a subsidy is reduced.


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

The Utah Department of Human Services, Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) offers postadoption services for families who have adopted a child from foster care or who have been involved with DCFS. Postadoption services in Utah are administered by DCFS through contracted agencies and parent organizations. Postadoption workers have a working knowledge of community resources that may help adoptive families with their specific situations.

Utah partners with the Utah’s Adoption Connection for many services.

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Utah'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 Utah are administered by the Department of Health through Public Mental Health Centers and their contracted providers. Mental health services are offered under the state Medicaid plan and include the following examples: diagnostic and rehabilitative services, individual and family psychotherapy, skills training and development, physician services, and prescription drugs.

Find Utah’s Medicaid website and a listing and description of its programs and services. See also Utah’s Adoption Connection page under Post Adoption Resources, Mental Health.

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?

Utah may provide payment through what are known as Supplemental Adoption Assistance Agreements. Subject to the availability of state funds, supplemental adoption assistance may be available for financial support for extraordinary, infrequent, or uncommon documented needs not otherwise covered by a monthly subsidy, state medical assistance, or other public benefits for which a child who has a special need is eligible. This is subject to the approval of the regional Division of Child & Family Services Adoption Subsidy Committee or if involving more than $3,000 in assistance, also the approval of a State Review Committee.

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 may send a written request for a fair haring to the Utah Department of Human Services any time an adoption assistance application is not acted upon promptly, a family is denied adoption assistance, adoption assistance is reduced, or adoption assistance is not funded at the requested rate. Notification of the right to a fair hearing (also known as an appeal) and an explanation of the hearing process are sent to the family. Parents are directed to read the notification and send it back to the agency indicating they wish to request a fair hearing. See the Utah Administrative Code (state law) for a complete outline of fair hearing process and procedures under Utah Admin Code Appeal Procedures.


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

Utah does not have a guardianship assistance program. However, the State provides a specified relative grant that "kin" relatives may qualify for. Guardianships are rare but occur on occasion.

  • Does the guardianship assistance program differ from the adoption assistance program? Yes


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

Eligibility criteria for the guardianship program are outlined in the Department of Child and Families Services Practice Guidelines. See: A Guide for Caregivers.


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

Information about qualifications for the Specified Relative Grant may be found in the Department of Children and Family Services A Guide for Caregivers.


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