Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Vermont

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 3 years
  • Race or ethnic background and over the age of 3 years
  • Member of a sibling group of two or more children being adopted by the same family
  • Medical condition/disability
  • Physical, mental, emotional or psychological disability
  • Certain high risk factors such as documented prenatal exposure to drugs/alcohol or diagnosis of genetic or mental illness of birth mother or father


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.)

Vermont offers deferred adoption assistance. Children must meet the special needs criteria or be in the high-risk category and the adoptive family must apply prior to adoption finalization. Termination of parental rights of both parents must be complete and documentation of efforts to place the child without assistance must be made by the placing agency. Eligibility determinations for deferred assistance are made on a case-by-case basis and children must meet Title IV-E/SSI eligibility criteria.


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

Adoption assistance payments may begin when a child/youth is legally free for adoption, is living with his or her adoptive parent(s) and both the adopting parent(s) and the Commissioner have signed an agreement.


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?

Once both parties sign an adoption subsidy agreement, the amount or type of subsidy can be changed only with the concurrence of both parties. When the financial circumstance of the family or the needs of the child/youth warrant it, parents may apply for reconsideration of the specifics of the written agreement.

Requests for changes in the adoption assistance agreement must be in writing and have the adoptive parent(s) signature(s). To make a request to increase adoption assistance, the adoptive family must first make use of any and all available community supports and provide documentation of such use. Parents must include information detailing the community supports and agencies the family has already contacted for assistance, the results of those contacts, any school or psychological evaluations, and information from therapists, doctors or social workers working with the child and family. The written request for change must outline what is needed, an estimate of cost, what portion (if any) of the cost will be funded by community supports, what portion (if any) will be funded by the family, and what portion parents are seeking from the state. The request must also detail the estimated duration of services/costs. Requests should be sent to the Adoption Chief.

For information regarding adoption, contact Vermont DCF, Family Services Division at the following address:
280 State Drive HC1N
Waterbury, Vermont 05671-2401
Phone: 802.241.2131


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

Postadoption services such as parent education, referral to community resources, treatment team consultation, support groups, training opportunities, and more are available to help adoptive families. Postadoption services in Vermont can be accessed through the Vermont Consortium for Adoption and Guardianship, an association of agencies and groups from around the State with the common goal of supporting Vermont's guardian and adoptive families.

Project Family is a partnership between the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) and Lund (Vermont’s largest and oldest nonprofit adoption agency). More information may be found on the Vermont Department for Children and Families website or by contacting Project Family at 1-800-746-7000.

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Vermont'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 Vermont are administered by the Agency of Human Services, Department of Developmental and Mental Health Services (DDMHS) and include the following examples:

  • Crisis assessment and support
  • Service planning and coordination
  • Clinic-based treatment
  • Outreach treatment
  • Family support
  • Prevention, screening, referral and community consultation
  • Intensive residential service
  • Hospital inpatient services

The Department of Mental Health Children's Mental Health Services works with designated agencies in each region to assure delivery of effective behavioral health treatment and supports as well as prevention and early intervention services through a family-centered system of care for all children and families in the state.

Contact: Department of Mental Health
280 State Drive, NOB 2 North
Waterbury, VT 05671-2010
Phone: (802) 241-0090
Fax: (802) 241-0100

Find the following mental health resources for children in Vermont:

The Department of Mental Health designates one agency in each geographic region of the state to provide the Department's mental health programs for adults and children.

Designated Agencies are private, non-profit service providers that are responsible for ensuring needed services are available through program delivery, local planning, service coordination, and monitoring outcomes within their region.


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?

In Vermont, adoptive parents may get payment for special services for a child. Parents must get written approval from the DCF Commissioner or designee. They must also demonstrate:

  • Financial need
  • That neither Medicaid nor the family’s private insurance (if the child is enrolled in it) will cover the service
  • That the service or funding for it is not available through another government program or existing local interagency process


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 when an agency of human services’ decision affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. Parents are sent letters informing them of intended agency action that will affect their child’s benefits and the letter provides information and contacts to appeal the decision through fair hearing heard by the Human Services Board. Adoptive parents may get a copy of the fair hearing rules and ask questions about the process by calling: (802) 828-2536 or via Parents may submit their request for an appeal in writing within 30 days to:

Human Services Board Clerk
14-16 Baldwin Street, 2nd floor
Montpelier, VT 05633


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. The only difference is in the non-portability of Medicaid for State funded youth.

  • Does the guardianship assistance program differ from the adoption assistance program? Yes
  • If so, how does it differ? Childcare assistance is not available for guardianship; also, due to the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance, State-funded agreements have more portable Medicaid with adoption assistance.


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

Guidelines for determination of eligibility for guardianship assistance as well as other important information about the guardianship assistance program may be found in the Vermont Department for Children and Families Family Services Policy Manual.


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

Yes: a person related to the child by blood, marriage or adoption OR a person who has a relationship with a child that was established prior to division involvement


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