Adoption and Guardianship Assistance - Washington

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 one or more of the following factors or conditions:

  • Six years of age or older at the time of adoption
  • Minority ethnic or racial background.
  • Member of a sibling group of three or more; or if a sibling group of two, at least one sibling has a disability or meets the special needs criteria
  • Was previously adopted and eligible for Title IV-E reimbursement
  • Diagnosed with a physical, mental, developmental, cognitive or emotional disability.
  • At risk for a diagnosis a physical, emotional, or disabling condition


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.)

$1,500 for payment of attorney fees, home study expenses, and other adoption related 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.)

Washington offers deferred adoption assistance. Adoptive parents can enter into a deferred adoption assistance agreement with a zero amount (no payment) in the same way they enter into an adoption assistance agreement.


How are changes made to the adoption assistance agreement in your State?

Any time, there is a change in family circumstances or the child’s condition, adoptive parents may ask a revision of the agreement to their adoption support program consultant. The consultant will provide information about pertinent documentation concerning the child’s special needs and the current circumstances of the family.

For more information, see the Washington Department of Social Services' publication, Post Adoption Questions and Answers.


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

Post adoption services focus primarily on the provision of Adoption Assistance and medical and dental coverage through Provider One, the Washington State Medicaid Provider and/or Coordinated Care of Washington-Apple Health Coordinated Care. Adoption support program consultants are available to assist adoptive families in locating additional post adoption services as needed. A list of adoption support program consultants is available on the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families website.

Adoptive Parents may also reach the office responsible for their adoption support agreement by calling 1-800-562-5682. Parents may also refer to the Department of Social and Health Services’ publication Post Adoption Services Questions and Answers for further information.

Adoptive parents may also contact the office responsible for their adoption support agreement by calling 1.800.562.5682.

Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Washington's respite programs.


What mental health services are provided by your State?

Adoption Support offers assistance with individual therapy. Individual therapy means treatment focused on child’s needs, behaviors and interaction with family.

Adopted children have access to other mental health services available to any child in the general population.

Eligibility for mental health services, the nature of the services, and funding are subject to change. To find out what services are currently available contact your adoption support program consultant at 1.800.562.5682. For crisis situations, call a local 24 hour crisis line. If a life threatening emergency exists, call 911. For further information, please visit the Department of Social and Health Services’ (DSHS) Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) website.

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

No, Washington does not provide additional finances or services for medical or therapeutic needs not covered under its state medical plan to children receiving adoption assistance.


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 have the right to request a fair hearing to contest decisions made by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families that affects their child’s adoption assistance benefits. Adoptive parents are asked to contact the Office of Administrative Hearings or their adoption assistance worker to request a fair hearing, or phone 800.562.5682 for further information. Either the parent or their representative may request a hearing. The request must be made within in 90 days of the date of the decision. Decisions regarding the timeliness of a hearing request are the responsibility of the Administrative Law Judge. All hearing requests should be forwarded for scheduling regardless of the date of the request. The request does not need to be in any particular form and can be made verbally or in writing. The request can be made to any responsible department employee. The request should include the decision being appealed and why the client is dissatisfied with the decision. However, any request indicating dissatisfaction with a department decision should be treated as a hearing request. Send requests to the following address:

Office of Administrative Hearings
P.O. Box 42489
Olympia, WA 98504-2489

The above information and further explanation of the fair hearing process can be found in Post Adoption Services Questions and Answers and the Washington State Legislature.


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? Difference is only in the negotiation.


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

Eligibility criteria may be found in the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families' Policies and Procedures 4340 Guardianships.


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

Yes. Relative includes persons related to a child in the following ways:

  • Any blood relative, including those of half-blood, and including first cousins, second cousins, nephews or nieces, and persons of preceding generations as denoted by prefixes of grand, great, or great-great
  • Stepfather, stepmother, stepbrother, and stepsister
  • A person who legally adopts a child or the child's parent as well as the natural and other legally adopted children of such persons, and other relatives of the adoptive parents in accordance with state law
  • Spouses of any persons named above, even after the marriage is terminated
  • Relatives, as named in this subsection, of any half sibling of the child
  • Extended family members, as defined by the law or custom of the Indian child's tribe or, in the absence of such law or custom, a person who has reached the age of eighteen and who is the Indian child's grandparent, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, brother-in-law or sister-in-law, niece or nephew, first or second cousin, or stepparent who provides care in the family abode on a twenty-four hour basis to an Indian child


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