Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Washington, DC

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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?")

The child is eligible for subsidy when the child is determined to have special needs based on one or more of the following conditions:

  • The child has a chronic medically diagnosed disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or requires professional treatment, or assistance in self-care
  • The child has been diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional to have a psychiatric condition that impairs the child’s mental, intellectual, or social functioning, and for which the child requires professional services
  • The child has been determined to be mentally disabled by a qualified medical professional
  • The child has been diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional to have a behavioral or emotional disorder characterized by situationally inappropriate behavior that deviates substantially from behavior appropriate to the child’s age and interferes significantly with the child’s intellectual, social, and personal adjustment
  • The child meets all medical or disability requirements of title XVI of the Social Security Act with respect to eligibility for supplemental security income benefits
  • The child is a member of a sibling group that should be placed together and the adoption must be finalized at the same time
  • The child is of an age or has an ethnic or racial background that presents a barrier to adoption
  • The child has been legally free for adoption for 6 months or more and an adoptive placement has not been found

 

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.)

The District of Columbia offers deferred adoption assistance. Deferred agreements are available for children who are at high risk of developing a special need but do not otherwise qualify as special needs. 'High risk' means that a child does not currently evidence a special need but, due to factors in is or her biological, social, or familial background, is at risk of developing a special need in the future.

 

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

Adoption assistance payments and benefits may begin in the District of Columbia at adoption finalization.

 

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 who are a party to the adoption assistance agreement can request a change in the agreement any time there is a change in the condition of the child related to the condition of special needs identified at the time of adoption or identified as being "at risk" of developing. Parents must make a written request specifying the reason for change and send the request to the adoption assistance worker. Parents can request a review of the amount of any single payment or in the level of on-going payments and must provide medical or psychiatric documentation substantiating the need for modification of the agreement. The Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) reviews adoption assistance agreements annually for continued need. Adoptive families are sent forms each year in order to verify the child’s residence through school registration. Requests for modification of the adoption assistance agreement are reviewed within 30 days of receipt by DC's CFSA.

 

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

Postadoption services in the District of Columbia are offered through the Post Permanency Family Center (PPFC), a partnership of Adoptions Together and the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) adoption program. The Center can assist families in the District of Columbia in finding supportive community resources in such areas as mental health, parenting, emergency services, public health, academic support, and adoption assistance. The Center can be contacted at 202.526.4802.

PPFC provides comprehensive support, training, and therapy for families who have achieved or are working towards the guardianship or adoption of District children. In addition, The Foster and Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center, an independent advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of children from the DC foster system, offers further resources on its website.

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate the District of Columbia'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 the District of Columbia are administered by the Department of Behavioral Health and include the following examples: mental health, physician, clinic, inpatient/outpatient hospital care, residential treatment, and pharmacy/prescription drugs.

The Foster and Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center provides the following services: short-term counseling focused on adjustment difficulties, grief and loss, abandonment, identity development, and family identify formation. Contact the Center at 202.526.4802.

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker, medical assistance specialist, or post adoption services contact 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?

Payments may be available on a special service basis to help a family meet a specific anticipated expense or expenses when no other resource appears to be available. These determinations are made on a case-by-case basis and are determined by the specific needs of the child and documentation that the service is available through no other means and the financial circumstances of the adoptive parents.

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance workers 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.)

An adoptive parent or permanent guardian can challenge the Child and Family Services Agency's (CFSA) denial, reduction, or termination of their adoption assistance benefits through the Office of Fair Hearings and Appeals. A Notice of Action along with a Fair Hearing request form is sent to parents instructing them on how to formally request a hearing. Parents must submit a the fair hearing request form or a written request for fair hearing via letter form and CFSA will hold a conference with the parents to resolve the issue.

Hearing requests must be received within thirty days from receipt of the Notice of Action. The parent/caregiver may request a hearing with an examiner or choose to have the case mediated by an impartial third party. An impartial Fair Hearing Examiner will make a final decision based on the best interest of the child, as well as all pertinent Federal/District laws and regulations, and any other relevant information presented by the appellant and the agency. The Office of Fair Hearings and Appeals must submit a notification of the hearing within forty-five days of receipt of the family’s request for fair hearing.

Contact the adoption assistance office at 202.727.5424 to initiate the process. The Fair Hearing request form may be emailed to cfsa.fairhearings@cfsa.dc.gov or mailed or hand delivered to the Office of Fair Hearings & Appeals, 200 I Street, SE, Washington, DC 20003

 

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

Yes. The District of Columbia has a guardianship assistance program.

  • Does the guardianship assistance program differ from the adoption assistance program? Yes
  • If so, how does it differ?  The District of Columbia Code requires that guardianship subsidy take into consideration the income of the family; this is not required for adoption.

 

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

Child is age 2 or over, member of a sibling or minority group, may present a physical, mental, or emotional handicap, or at a high risk for developing physical or mental disease.

 

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

No.

 

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