The State of Georgia Subsidy Profile of 2009 in other words More Money for Adoping our Children


Georgia State Subsidy Profile

Updated November 2009

State Subsidy Contact Person

Mr. Adrian J. Owens
DHS/Social Services Administration Unit
2 Peachtree St. NW, Ste. 8-400
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: 404-657-3558 / 888-460-2467
Fax: 404-463-3735
E-mail: ajowens@dhr.state.ga.us

NACAC Subsidy Representatives (parent/volunteer)

Jymme Reed
6319 Hillview Lane
Douglasville, GA 30134
Phone: 770-947-1265
E-mail: jymme_reed@comcast.net

Kathryn Karp
My Turn Now, Inc.
PO Box 7727
Atlanta, GA 30357
Phone: 404-657-3479
kkarp@dhr.state.ga.us

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Adoption subsidies are available for children with special needs. Federal subsidies were created by Congress (through Public Law 96-272—the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980) to encourage the adoption of special needs children and remove the financial disincentives to adoption for the families. Children may receive a federally funded subsidy under Title IV-E or a state-funded subsidy as per state guidelines. Below we have outlined information related to definitions of special needs, benefits available, and procedures in your state. Answers to select questions were made available by the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (AAICAMA) through the Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov). Profiles for each state’s subsidy program are available on our web site at http://www.nacac.org. If you have additional questions, please call the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) at 651-644-3036 or our subsidy help line at 800-470-6665, or e-mail us at adoption.assistance@nacac.org. If you have state-specific questions, please call your State Subsidy Contact Person or the NACAC Subsidy Representative (listed above) for more information.

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Adoption Resources on the Web:

http://dfcs.dhr.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHR-DFCS/menuitem.5d32235bb 09
bde9a50c8798dd03036a0/?vgnextoid=036a2b48d9a4ff00VgnVCM
100000bf01010aRCRD and

Georgia’s state-specific medical assistance:

http://dch.georgia.gov/02/dch/home/0,2467,31446711,00.html;jsessionid=
91207BA034CBE3AC800A852AA6E73DE7

1. What specific factors or conditions does your State consider to determine that a child cannot be placed with adoptive parents 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:

Eight years of age or older
African American heritage and one year of age or older
Member of a sibling group of three or more children placed together at the same time
Member of a sibling group of two children to be placed together where one child is eight years of age or older or has another special need as defined herein
A documented physical, emotional, or mental problems or limitations, or a predisposition there from
Note: Children must be legally free for adoption to be eligible for adoption assistance. To be eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance, the state must also determine that the child cannot or should not return home to the birth parent(s) and that reasonable efforts to place the child with out adoption assistance have been made (except when contrary to the best interest of the child).

2. What are the eligibility criteria for the State-funded adoption assistance program?

In order to be eligible for state-funded adoption assistance a child must not be eligible for Title IV-E, special needs child as defined above, legally free for adoption, and have been in the permanent custody of the Georgia Department of Human Resources.

3. The maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Georgia is:

These rates are effective July 1, 2009 for new subsidy agreements only.

Basic rates: Age Rate

Age Rate
0-5 $441.04
6-12 $463.85
13-18 $486.67

4. Specialized rates are based on the extraordinary needs of the child, and/or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child. If Georgia offers these rates, the criteria used to define them are as follows:

If a child receives a specialized family foster care rate, a foster care worker can submit an application to the Adoption Unit for a determination for a higher per diem based on the exceptional special needs of the foster child. The foster care rate is determined by the Provider Relations Unit.

Adoption assistance payments can be up to 100 percent of the applicable DHS/DFCS family foster care per diem that the child was receiving immediately prior to the adoptive placement. The rates are dependent on the current level of functioning of the child.

Note: DHR/DFCS specialized family foster care rates may be lower than a private therapeutic foster care agency’s rates. For negotiating specialized adoption assistance, the rate can only be negotiated up to the DHS/DFACS family foster care rates.

5. Parents can receive payment or reimbursement for certain nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption. Below are the allowed expenses and the limit per child.

Nonrecurring expenses include: reasonable and necessary legal fees/ court costs, travel/lodging/meals (as part of pre-placement visits) and physicals for adoptive parent(s) as part of the adoption home assessment directly related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs.

Children adopted internationally are not eligible unless they meet the federal definition of special needs. To meet the federal definition of special needs the state must determine that the child cannot or should not return home, the child must meet the state definition of special needs (see question 1), and the state must be able to document that there have been reasonable efforts to place the child without adoption assistance.

Reimbursement for nonrecurring expenses will be made only after the adoption is finalized. Documentation of expenses must be provided prior to payment. The reimbursement limit is $1,500 per child.

6. What Medicaid services are available in Georgia?

The state contact for eligibility questions is Teresa Johnson, 404-657-7263, and the contact for questions on services is Yvonne Dove, 404-463-2135.

7. Children who have federally funded (Title IV-E) subsidy are automatically eligible for Medicaid benefits. However, it is the state’s decision whether state-funded (non-Title IV-E) children are eligible for Medicaid benefits in Georgia. Below is information on the Medicaid benefits available for state-funded children.

A child receiving State-funded adoption maintenance assistance is eligible for State-funded Medicaid. In practice, staff indicate that children have a “future need for counseling” so all children may receive Medicaid.

8. What mental health services are provided by your State?

Public mental health services for children in Georgia are administered through the Department of Community Health (DCH), Division of Medical Assistance and include the following examples: psychological services, in-patient hospital services, mental health clinic services, targeted case management for the chronically mentally ill, therapeutic residential intervention, and pharmacy services.

DMA and Medicaid covered services:
http://dch.georgia.gov/02/dch/home/0,2467,31446711,00.html

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.

9. 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?

Special Services funds are available only to children who had been in the permanent custody of DHS. Georgia provides limited funding under the Special Services Adoption Assistance Program, these funds are approved on an annual basis.. These funds are contingent on availability of State funds and need. Family income and availability of community resources is considered in these requests. Special Services funds are provided by a separate agreement. The county social services case manager is the source of contact for application.

Georgia DFCS, DHR county contact: http://dfcs.dhr.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHR-DFCS/menuitem.5d32235bb09bde9a50c8798dd03036a0/?vgnextoid=
eca92b48d9a4ff00VgnVCM100000bf01010aRCRD

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.

10. What types of post adoption services are available in your State and how do you find out more about them?

Post adoption contracted services in Georgia are administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) thorough the DFCS, Social Services Administration Unit and community resources. DHS post adoption services include the following:

Georgia Center for Adoption Resources and Support (Tutoring referrals, lending library, training and referrals adoptive parent support groups).
A-Team (teen support group)
Crisis Intervention Team (therapeutic intervention, family case management)
Adoption Reunion Registry
Local county departments may have a local listing that adoptive families may call. In addition, a toll free number for the Georgia Center for Adoption Resources and Support is available and will provide families with information relating to resources, support groups, local and statewide adoption related activities. The number for the resource center is 1-866-A-Parent (1-866-272-7368).

Special Services Adoption Assistance—provides a time-limited or one-time special service when no other family or community resource is available:

Child Care: Based on need and family income
Respite: Provided to afford the family some down time that cares for a special needs child that may have medical/emotional/physical/mental diagnosis by a licensed medical or psychological provider. Can be approved for up to 20 hours per month/per family.
Other Special Services: Services such as orthodontics, prosthetics, psychological counseling (not paid for by Medicaid).
Contact your local DFCS County Office for more information. Georgia DFCS, DHR county contact: http://dfcs.dhr.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHR-DFCS/menuitem.5d32235bb09bde9a50c8798dd03036a0/?vgnextoid=
eca92b48d9a4ff00VgnVCM100000bf01010aRCRD
Special Services funds are contingent upon the availability of State Funds. A family’s resources are taken into consideration when the application is made. Special Services are not provided each year for every child.

In addition, many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Georgia’s respite programs, link: http://chtop.org/ARCH/National-Respite-Locator.html

11. If the additional assistance (listed above in questions #8 -10) is to cover specific services (e.g., counseling/mental health services, respite care, etc.), must these services be explicitly identified in the adoption assistance agreement?

No. Special Services may be applied for anytime after the child is placed on adoptive status. Special Services are based on the availability of State Funds. These services are covered under a separate agreement and paid strictly through special services funds.

12. How are residential treatment costs covered (if at all) for adoptive families? What procedures must a family follow to receive these services?

Families requiring residential treatment should contact their county social service office or mental health center. Funding is dependent on meeting specific eligibility criteria and availability of funds. Families must be Georgia residents in order to be eligible for this service. Any child is eligible whether or not initially in Georgia DHS custody. If the child and family is receiving adoption assistance from Georgia the family will be asked to contribute a portion of the adoption assistance towards the cost of the placement as they are still legally and financially responsible for the child(ren).

13. A deferred adoption assistance agreement is one in which the initial monthly maintenance amount is $0. Does Georgia offer such agreements?

Yes, Georgia offers deferred agreements. If a child does not meet the definition of a child with special needs prior to adoption finalization, a deferred adoption assistance application is completed by the adopting parent(s) for a $0 dollar amount. If at a later time the child is diagnosed with a physical/mental/emotional, medical condition by a licensed provider, the family can request another special needs determination through the local DFCS office. All approvals/denials are completed by the Social Services Administration Unit. No adoption assistance payment will exceed the basic foster care rate the child received as a family foster care board rate prior to adoptive placement.

14. Does Georgia operate a subsidized guardianship program?

No.

Programmatic Procedures

15. Who makes the final determination of a child’s subsidy eligibility in Georgia? What roles, if any, do workers and administrators at the county, district, or regional level play in eligibility determination and/or assistance negotiation?

Adoption Assistance is applied for at the local level (county office). All determinations/approvals/denials are made by the Social Services Administration Unit at the State Office. The caseworker submitting the documentation will be notified of the approval or denial by SSAU.

16. Will Georgia consider my family income to determine my child’s eligibility for subsidy?

Written documentation of a family’s financial circumstances must be submitted with the initial application. This information is not used to establish eligibility for subsidy, but it does give the agency an idea of the family’s ability to meet the special needs of the child.

Eligibility for Special services adoption assistance funds will consider the adoptive family income and the availability of community resources.

17. When do subsidy payments begin?

For children involved with Georgia DFCS, Adoption Assistance payments and benefits may begin at the time of adoptive placement.

For children not involved with DFCS (Private/Independent adoption), Adoption Assistance payments and benefits begin once the adoption has finalized.

18. Do children adopted from private agencies in Georgia receive the same subsidies as those children adopted from public agencies?

Only Federal (IV-E) subsidies are available to children in the custody of private agencies at this time. Children placed through private agencies are ineligible for state-funded subsidy. Special Services Funds are not available to children in the custody of private agencies.

19. When my child turns 18, which benefits if any, are available to our family?

Listed below are the criteria for adoption assistance eligibility over age 18. All adoption assistance payments will end when the youth turns 21 years old or earlier.

For youth over age 18 who are still in high school:

For an adopted child to be eligible for continued assistance the child must have been in the permanent custody of DFCS (Both biological parents parental rights were terminated and DFCS had sole custody of the child when the adoption occurred. The only exception to this is when the child was placed from the temporary custody of DFCS (DFCS initiated TPR) with the relative/fictive kin for the purpose of adoption. If a child does not meet either of these requirements, then the adoption assistance will end in the month of the child’s 18th birthday.
If the child meets the eligibility requirements above, then they must document that they are in school full time (GED or Job Corp does not qualify as full time school) by providing verification on school letterhead quarterly.
NOTE: The adoption assistance ends when:
The child graduates from high school (If still in school can receive adoption assistance through their graduation month)
The child drops out of high school (Can receive adoption assistance the month they drop out only),
The child turns 21 (If still in school can receive adoption assistance through their birth month)
For youth over age 18 who are in college or technical school:

For an adopted child to be eligible for continued assistance they must have been adopted prior to July 1998 (any age) with an adoption assistance agreement. For children adopted after July 1998, they must have been adopted after their 13th birthday with an adoption assistance agreement.
The child must also have been in the permanent custody of DFCS (Both biological parents parental rights were terminated and DFCS had sole custody of the child when the adoption occurred, or was placed from the temporary custody of DFCS (DFCS initiated TPR) with the relative/fictive kin for the purpose of adoption.
If the child meets the eligibility requirements above, then they must document that they are in school full time by providing verification on school letterhead quarterly.
NOTE: The adoption assistance ends upon:
Failure to provide quarterly verification of full time enrollment
Child turns 21 (If still in school can receive adoption assistance through their birth month)
Child drops out of school (Can receive adoption assistance through the month they drop out)
20. A child’s adoption assistance agreement may be periodically reviewed by the state. What is the typical process used in Georgia?

Georgia does not renew nor recertify a child for adoption assistance; however Medicaid is renewed annually by the REV Max Unit.

21. Can adoption assistance agreements be modified if requested by adoptive parents?

Georgia Policy does not allow for an increase in the adoption assistance benefit beyond the amount the child received in family foster care immediately prior to the adoptive placement. However, the family may have other requests such as post adoption services, referrals for community and/or agency resources, a change of address, etc. Any requests or notifications by the parents are made to the case manager. This is outlined in the adoption assistance agreement. If an adoptive family is unsuccessful in making contact with the case manager, they should contact the supervisor or county director.

Georgia DFCS, DHR county contact: http://dfcs.dhr.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHR-DFCS/menuitem.5d32235bb09bde9a50c8798dd03036a0/?vgnextoid=
eca92b48d9a4ff00VgnVCM100000bf01010aRCRD

22. What are the exact steps a family must go through to access the fair hearing/appeal process in Georgia?

Adoptive families can request a fair hearing any time there is a disagreement with a DFCS decision affecting their child’s adoption assistance agreement. Parents are directed to contact their local county Department of Family and Children Services to request a fair hearing. Georgia DFCS, DHR county contact: http://dfcs.dhr.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHR-DFCS/menuitem.5d32235bb09bde9a50c8798dd03036a0/?vgnextoid=
eca92b48d9a4ff00VgnVCM100000bf01010aRCRD

All requests must be made in writing and provided to the county DFCS case manager who will send a formal referral to the Legal Services Department of DHS for processing. DHS in turn forwards the request to the Office of State Administrative Hearings.

The Office of State Administrative Hearings will notify the family, in writing, of the date and location of the hearing. Hearings are usually held in the county of residence of the petitioner. Requests for an administrative hearing by telephone are possible. The request for a telephone hearing must be made in writing to the fair hearing officer identified in the hearing notice.
After the bureau of state hearings receives a request for a fair hearing, a notice giving the date, time, and place of the hearing is sent to adoptive parents. This notice will be sent at least ten days before the hearing. The notice also will tell parents what to do if they cannot come to the hearing as scheduled. Families may bring witnesses, friends, relatives, or a lawyer to help them present their case. The hearing officer will listen to both sides but will not make a decision at the hearing. Instead, parents will receive a written decision in the mail, issued by the hearing authority, a few weeks later. Parents should receive a hearing decision within ninety days of their hearing request. The hearing officer will record the hearing so that the facts are taken down correctly. After the hearing decision is issued, parents can get a free copy of the tape by contacting the hearings section. If parents disagree with the hearing decision, the written decision sent to them will explain how to ask for an administrative appeal of the decision.

See the Office of State Administrative Hearings regarding Procedural Rules and Legal Resources:
http://www.osah.ga.gov/documents/procedures/rules%20of%20procedure.pdf

23. Families may request a subsidy after the finalization of an adoption under certain circumstances. Below is the process by which families access a subsidy after finalization.

In order to start the process, families should contact the county where they live or contact Adrian J. Owens at 404-657-3558.

Georgia DFCS, DHR county contact: http://dfcs.dhr.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHR-DFCS/menuitem.5d32235bb09bde9a50c8798dd03036a0/?vgnextoid=
eca92b48d9a4ff00VgnVCM100000bf01010aRCRD

System Operation and Program Funding

24. How is the subsidy program operated and funded in Georgia?

The system is state supervised in terms of policy writing, consultation, and some training. Counties administer the adoption program. All adoption studies and life histories are registered with the state adoption exchange. Initial applications for adoption assistance and requests for non-recurring adoption expenses are approved at the State level and administered at the County level. All requests for special services adoption assistance are approved at the state level.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 67.29% in Georgia. This is known as the Federal Financial Participation (FFP) rate. The remaining cost of the program is funded entirely with state funds.

25. Below are other programs that may differentiate Georgia’s adoption assistance program from others around the country.

Georgia does not pay college tuition for adopted children. However, State funded adoption assistance may be provided in certain circumstances for children ages 18-21 who are in college or technical school-see question 19 for criteria that must be met.

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North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
970 Raymond Avenue, Suite 106
St. Paul, MN 55114
phone: 651-644-3036
fax: 651-644-9848
e-mail: info@nacac.org
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About yvonnemason

Background:  The eldest of five children, Yvonne was born May 17, 1951 in Atlanta, Georgia. Raised in East Point, Georgia, she moved to Jackson County, Ga. until 2006 then moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida where she currently makes her home.  Licensed bounty hunter for the state of Georgia. Education:  After a 34 year absence, returned to college in 2004. Graduated with honors in Criminal Justice with an Associate’s degree from Lanier Technical College in 2006. Awards:  Nominated for the prestigious GOAL award in 2005 which encompasses all of the technical colleges. This award is based not only on excellence in academics but also leadership, positive attitude and the willingness to excel in one’s major. Affiliations:  Beta Sigma Phi Sorority  Member of The Florida Writer’s Association – Group Leader for St Lucie County The Dream:  Since learning to write at the age of five, Yvonne has wanted to be an author. She wrote her first novel Stan’s Story beginning in 1974 and completed it in 2006. Publication seemed impossible as rejections grew to 10 years. Determined, she continued adding to the story until her dream came true in 2006. The Inspiration:  Yvonne’s brother Stan has been her inspiration and hero in every facet of her life. He was stricken with Encephalitis at the tender age of nine months. He has defied every roadblock placed in his way and has been the driving force in every one of her accomplishments. He is the one who taught her never to give up The Author: Yvonne is currently the author of several novels, including:  Stan’s Story- the true story of her brother’s accomplishments, it has been compared to the style of Capote, and is currently being rewritten with new information for re-release.  Tangled Minds - a riveting story about a young girl’s bad decision and how it taints everyone’s life around her yet still manages to show that hope is always possible. This novel has been compared to the writing of Steinbeck and is currently being written as a screenplay. This novel will be re-released by Kerlak Publishing in 2009  Brilliant Insanity – released by Kerlak Publishing October 2008  Silent Scream – Released by Lulu.com October 2008- Slated to be made into a movie Yvonne’s Philosophy in Life - “Pay it Forward”: “In this life we all have been helped by others to attain our dreams and goals. We cannot pay it back but what we can do is ‘pay it forward’. It is a simple
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