This is the latest adoption subsidy for Georgia under the Title IV-E Funding. This is not all of it. No wonder people want to adopt children especially special needs children from DFCS they make a killing
What Is Adoption Subsidy?
Parents who are thinking about or are in the process of adopting a child with special needs from foster care should know about adoption assistance (also known as adoption subsidy). Federal (Title IV-E) and state (often called non-IV-E) adoption assistance programs are designed to help parents meet their adopted children’s varied, and often costly, needs. Children can qualify for federal adoption assistance or state assistance, depending on the child’s history. Adoption subsidy policies and practices are, for the most part, dependent on the state in which the child was in foster care before the adoption.
Below is information related to definitions of special needs, benefits available, and procedures in Georgia. 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 other states’ subsidy programs are available. If you have additional questions, please contact NACAC at 651-644-3036, 800-470-6665, or email@example.com. If you have state-specific questions, please call your State Subsidy Contact Person or the NACAC Subsidy Representative (listed above) for more information.
For more information on Title IV-E eligibility, view our fact sheet Eligibility and Benefits for Federal Adoption Assistance.
Adoption resources on the web:
http://dfcs.dhr.georgia.gov/ (choose Services from the menu at left then click on Adoption)
Georgia state-specific medical assistance:
Who is Eligible for Adoption Assistance or Subsidy?
1. How does Georgia define special needs to determine eligibility?
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.
As of March 1, 2010, a child will meet the special needs definition if he or she:
has been in the care of a public or private agency or individual other than the legal or biological parent for more than 24 consecutive months;
has a physical, mental, or emotional disability, as validated by a licensed physician or psychologist; OR
is a member of a sibling group of two or more placed together in the same home.
Before March 1, 2010, a child who met one or more of the following conditions was considered to have special needs:
is eight years of age or older
is of African American heritage and one year of age or older
is a member of a sibling group of three or more children placed together at the same time
is a 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 here)
has documented physical, emotional, or mental problems or limitations, or a predisposition to such problems or limitations
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 determine that the child cannot or should not return home to the birth parent(s) and that reasonable efforts to place the child without adoption assistance have been made (except when contrary to the child’s best interest).
2. Does the state-only funded adoption assistance program differ in any way from the Title IV-E program?
To be eligible for state-funded adoption assistance, a child:
must not be eligible for Title IV-E,
must be a child with special needs as defined above,
must be legally free for adoption, and
have been in the permanent custody of the Georgia Department of Human Resources.
3. Are children adopted from private agencies in Georgia eligible for subsidies?
Only federal (title 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.
What Supports and Services Are Available?
4. What is the maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Georgia?
These rates are effective July 1, 2009 for new subsidy agreements only.
5. Does Georgia provide specialized rates (based on the extraordinary needs of the child or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child)?
If a child receives a specialized family foster care rate, a foster care worker can submit an application to the Social Services Adminstration Unit (SSAU) for consideration for a specialized adoption assistance per diem based on the child’s exceptional special needs. Specialized adoption assistance rates are dependent on the child’s current level of functioning.
Adoption assistance payments can be up to 100 percent of the DHS/DFCS family foster care per diem that the child was receiving immediately before the adoptive placement. (DHS/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/DFCS family foster care rates.)
6. When do subsidy payments begin?
For children involved with Georgia DFCS, adoption assistance benefits may begin at the time of adoptive placement. For children not involved with DFCS (private/independent adoption), adoption assistance benefits begin when the adoption has finalized.
7. When a child turns 18, which benefits, if any, continue?
Listed below are the criteria for adoption assistance eligibility over age 18. If a youth does not meet the criteria below, then assistance ends in the month of the child’s 18th birthday. The latest a youth can receive assistance is the month of her 21st birthday.
For youth over 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), or was placed from the temporary custody of DFCS (DFCS initiated TPR) with the relative/fictive kin for the purpose of adoption.
If a child meets the eligibility requirements above, then he must document that he is in school full time (not GED or Job Corp) by providing quarterly verification on school letterhead.
The adoption assistance ends when:
the child graduates from high school (through the graduation month),
the child drops out of high school (through the month the child drops out only),
the child turns 21 while still in high school (through the child’s birth month)
For youth over 18 who are in college or technical school:
For an adopted child to be eligible for continued assistance she must have been adopted with an adoption assistance agreement and either: (1) adopted before July 1998, OR (2) adopted after July 1998 with the adoption after her 13th birthday. 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 quarterly on school letterhead.
The adoption assistance ends when:
the youth fails to provide quarterly verification of full-time enrollment
the youth turns 21 (If still in school, the child can receive adoption assistance through the child’s birth month.)
the youth drops out of school (The child can receive adoption assistance through the month the child drops out.)
8. Does Georgia offer deferred adoption assistance agreements (agreements where initial monthly maintenance amount is $0 for children at risk of developing special needs later)?
Yes, Georgia offers deferred agreements for children who have been in the permanent custody of DFCS, or for children for whom DFCS terminated parental rights and transferred legal custody to a relative or individual for the purpose of adoption.
If a child does not meet the definition of a child with special needs before adoption finalization, a deferred adoption assistance application is completed by the adopting parent(s) for a $0 dollar amount. If the child is later diagnosed with a physical, mental, emotional, or medical condition by a licensed provider, the family can request another special needs determination from 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 in family foster care before adoptive placement.
9. 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.
10. What medical benefits are available for state-funded children? (Children who have federally funded/Title IV-E subsidy are automatically eligible for Medicaid benefits.)
A child receiving state-funded adoption assistance is eligible for state-funded Medicaid. For children who do not receive monthly payments, in practice, staff indicate that children have a future need for counseling so all children may receive Medicaid.
11. In Georgia, what nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption may be reimbursed?
Nonrecurring expenses of up to $1,500 per child may 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 before payment.
12. Is child care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access child care?
Special Service Adoption Assistance may cover child care, based on the child’s need and family income. (See question 15 for more information about Special Services.)
13. Is respite care available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access respite care?
Special Service Adoption Assistance may cover respite care of up to 20 per month per family if the child has a medical, emotional, physical, or mental diagnosis made by a licensed medical or psychological provider. (See question 15 for more information about Special Services.)
Many private organizations offer respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service (http://chtop.org/ARCH/National-Respite-Locator.html), then search by state to locate Georgia’s respite program.
14. Is residential treatment available? If yes, who is eligible and how do families access residential treatment 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 to be eligible for this service.
Any child is eligible whether or not initially in Georgia DHS custody. If the child is receiving adoption assistance from Georgia, the family will be asked to contribute a portion of the adoption assistance toward the cost of the placement as they are still legally and financially responsible for the child.
15. What other post-adoption services are available in Georgia and how do families find out more about them?
Post-adoption services in Georgia are administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) thorough the DFCS, Social Services Administration Unit and community resources. Services include the following:
Georgia Center for Adoption Resources and Support (tutoring referrals, lending library, training and referrals to adoptive parent support groups).
A-Team (teen support group)
Crisis Intervention Team (in-home therapeutic intervention, family case management)
Adoption Reunion Registry
Parents should contact the Georgia Center for Adoption Resources and Support (http://www.gaadoptionresources.org; 1-866-A-Parent/1-866-272-7368) for information on resources, support groups, and local and statewide adoption related activities. The local county departments may also have a local listing that adoptive families may call.
Georgia also offers Special Services Adoption Assistance, which provides a time-limited or one-time special service when no other family or community resource is available. Special Services include child care and respite (see questions 12 and 13), and also services such as orthodontics, prosthetics, psychological counseling (not paid for by Medicaid). Special Services funds are contingent upon the availability of state funds, and require advance approval. A family’s resources are taken into consideration when the application is made. Special Services are not provided each year for every child. Parents should contact their local DFCS county office for more information about Special Services (visit http://dfcs.dhr.georgia.gov/ and click on County Offices in the left menu).
16. If the assistance listed above in questions 11 to 14 are for specific services, must these services be explicitly identified in the adoption assistance agreement?
No. Special Services may be applied for any time after the child is placed on adoptive status.
What Should Families Know About Applying for Subsidy?
17. Who initiates the adoption assistance agreement?
The local county DFCS.
18. Who makes the final determination on an adoption subsidy agreement?
Parents apply for adoption assistance at the local DFCS county office. All determinations of special needs, approvals, and denials are made by the Social Services Administration Unit (SSAU) at the State Office. SSAU will notify the caseworker submitting the documentation of the approval or denial. The agreement will be entered into after SSAU approves the agreement and the local DFCS representative and parents sign the agreement.
19. How do families request a subsidy after finalization of an adoption?
To start the process, families should contact the county where they live (visit http://dfcs.dhr.georgia.gov/ and click on County Offices in the left menu) or contact Adrian J. Owens at 404-657-3558.
How Can a Family Adjust an Adoption Assistance Agreement?
20. Can adoptive parents ask to change an adoption assistance agreement?
Georgia policy does not allow for an increase in the adoption assistance benefit beyond the amount the child received in family foster care immediately before the adoptive placement. However, the family may have other requests such as post-adoption services, referrals for community or agency resources, a change of address, etc. Parents should make any requests or notifications to the case manager, as 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 (see the link under question 19 for contacts).
21. What steps does a family go through to appeal an adoption assistance decision 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 should contact their local county DFCS to request a fair hearing (see link under question 19 for contacts).
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 family’s county of residence. Parents can requests an administrative hearing by telephone by writing to the fair hearing officer identified in the hearing notice.
After the Office of State Administrative 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 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. 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 90 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.
For more information, download the Office of State Administrative Hearings regarding Procedural Rules and Legal Resources at http://www.osah.ga.gov/documents/procedures/administrative-rules-osah.pdf
What Else do Families Need to Know?
22. How is the subsidy program operated and funded in Georgia?
The state (SSAU) supervises policy writing, consultation, and some training. Counties administer the adoption program. 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 (the Federal Financial Participation/FFP rate) for Title IV-E-eligible children is 67.29% in Georgia. The remaining cost of the program is funded entirely with state funds.
23. Does Georgia operate a subsidized guardianship program?
24. Does Georgia offer a tuition waiver program?
Georgia does not pay college tuition for adopted children. However, adoption assistance may be provided in certain circumstances for children ages 18 to 21 who are in college or technical school (see question 7).
25. Does Georgia offer a state adoption tax credit?
Georgia has a credit of $2,000 per child per tax year for families who adopt from DHR foster care. The credit is available beginning with the year the child was adopted and ends in the year the child turns 18. Families must complete an Individual Income Tax Credit form (https://etax.dor.ga.gov/inctax/2009_forms/TSD_Individual_Income_Tax_Credit_INDCR-2009-_Fillable.pdf) to claim this credit.
26. Does Georgia have any program to support an adoptee whose adoptive parents die until the child is adopted again?
27. What else differentiates Georgia’s adoption assistance program from others around the country?
Claiming the Federal Adoption Tax Credit for Special Needs Adoptions
(Updated March 2009)
Click here for a PDF version
Families who adopt a child with special needs from foster care can claim a federal adoption tax credit without needing to incur or document expenses. The per-child tax credit is $11,650 for adoptions finalized in 2008, and $12,150 for those finalized in 2009*, and families have six years to use the entire credit. (If you finalized your adoption between 2003 and 2007, read What If We Finalized an Adoption before the Current Tax Year below.)
Are We Eligible for the Credit?
To qualify for the credit without documenting expenses, families must:
have adopted a child with special needs from foster care and
have a modified adjusted gross income of a certain level.
Then to be able to use the credit, families must also have federal tax liability.
Does my child have special needs?
Children who are harder to place for adoption—older children, children of color, sibling groups, and children with medical conditions or disabilities—are often determined to have special needs. NACAC interprets the IRS instructions to mean that if a child receives adoption subsidy (assistance), the adoption subsidy agreement (or application and agreement) is evidence that the state has determined that child has special needs. (See Line 1, Column (d) of the 8839 instructions for the IRS’s language.)
If your child does not receive an adoption subsidy, NACAC believes the state has not determined that your child has special needs and you will have to document adoption expenses to claim the credit.
Are we financially eligible for the credit?
How much, if any, of the credit you can use is based on:
your income — Families with federal modified adjusted gross income above $214,730 in 2008, or $222,180 in 2009, cannot claim the credit at all; families with incomes above $164,730 in 2008 ($182,180 in 2009) can claim partial credit.
your total federal tax liability (line 46 of form 1040) — In one year, you can use as much of the credit as the full amount of your federal income tax liability (which is your tax liability less any other credits). Even if you normally get a refund, you may still have tax liability and could increase the amount of your refund.
Sample Family Situations
Below are some examples of how the tax credit might benefit families who finalized adoptions in 2008 (these are simplified examples, which do not take into account the Child Tax Credit explained below).
A couple adopted a sibling group of two children with special needs. They had $6,500 in federal income tax withheld from their paychecks, and their tax liability is $7,000, which means they would owe $500 to the IRS. With the adoption tax credit, they have $23,300 in credits, and this year they could use up to $7,000 of the credit (the amount of their federal tax liability). They get a refund of the $6,500 they had already paid, and can carry over $16,300 of the tax credit for up to five more years.
A single mother adopted a sibling group of three children with special needs. She had $5,000 in federal income tax withheld from her paychecks, but her tax liability is only $4,000, which means she would receive a refund of $1,000. For the three children, she has $34,950 in adoption tax credits. This year she could use $4,000 of the credit. She will get a refund of the $5,000 she paid, and can carry over $30,950 of tax credit for up to five more years.
A couple with five children adopted a sibling group of two children with special needs. They had $1,000 in federal income tax withheld from their paychecks, and their tax liability is $0, which means they would receive a refund of $1,000. They have $23,300 in the Adoption Tax Credit, but they cannot use it this year since they have no federal tax liability. They should still file Form 8839 with their 2008 tax return so that they can then carry the credit forward for five additional years if their tax liability is greater than zero in those years.
How Do I Claim the Adoption Tax Credit?
To claim the credit you need to complete IRS Form 8839 in addition to filing your usual IRS Form 1040. You can find Form 8839 at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8839.pdf or by requesting it from 800-829-1040.
What do I do when the IRS asks for qualifying expenses on line 5?
Because you do not need to document expenses for children with special needs, simply enter $11,650 for adoptions finalized in 2008 (and $12,150 for 2009) as long as your child receives adoption subsidy. If you claimed any credit for expenses associated with this adoption in previous years, you need to deduct those from the total credit. The IRS instructions for 2008 taxes state: “If you did not claim any adoption credit for the child in a prior year, enter $11,650 on line 5 even if your qualified adoption expenses for the child were less than $11,650 (and even if you did not have any qualified adoption expenses for this child).”
What if my tax liability is less than the Adoption Tax Credit?
To carry any part of the credit forward to future years, fill out the Credit Carryforward Worksheet in the Instructions for Form 8839. This documents the amount of the credit you can carry forward for up to five additional years or until it is used up, whichever is sooner. You do not need to submit this worksheet, but you will need to complete and submit Form 8839 for any year in which you claim the credit you carried forward.
How does the Adoption Tax Credit affect the Child Tax Credit?
If you can claim your child as a dependent, then you should also look into the Child Tax Credit. The Child Tax Credit and the Adoption Tax Credit interact and may reduce the Child Tax Credit you can claim. To determine the amount of the Child Tax Credit you can use, you must complete the Child Tax Credit Worksheet in IRS Publication 972.
If you answer Yes on the last line of the Child Tax Credit Worksheet, you may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit, which is a refundable credit (meaning you can claim the credit regardless of your tax liability). To claim the Additional Child Tax Credit, complete IRS Form 8812.
What If I Finalized an Adoption before the Current Tax Year?
If you finalized an adoption in 2003 or a later year for which you have already filed your taxes, you can amend your return to take advantage of the federal adoption tax credit.
If you finalized an adoption before 2003 you probably won’t amend your return because:
you can only get credit for expenses you paid and can document for the adoption process, and
it has been more than three years since you filed your original return and the instructions for form 1040X state: “Generally, for a credit or refund, Form 1040X must be filed within 3 years after the date you filed the original return…”
In the rare case that you had significant expenses, you might be able to carry the credit forward to returns less than three years old as explained below.
How do I decide if I should amend my previous tax returns?
Your ability to benefit from the credit depends on your federal tax liability in any given year, so first you need to check if you could have benefited from the Adoption Tax Credit in the year you finalized the adoption or in later years.
If your tax liability minus your credits is greater than zero in the year you finalized the adoption—or in any of the next five years—you will benefit from the credit and should amend your taxes. The chart below shows where on your tax form (1040 or 1040A) you can find your tax liability, your credits, and your liability minus your credits. It also lists the maximum amount of the credit per child for that year.
Tax Year Tax Liability Total Credits Liability minus Credits Maximum
2003 1040 – Line 43
1040A – Line 28 1040 – Line 53
1040A – Line 35 1040 – Line 54
1040A – Line 36 $10,160
2004 1040 – Line 45
1040A – Line 28 1040 – Line 55
1040A – Line 35 1040 – Line 56
1040A – Line 36 $10,390
2005 1040 – Line 46
1040A – Line 28 1040 – Line 56
1040A – Line 35 1040 – Line 57
1040A – Line 36 $10,630
2006 1040 – Line 46
1040A – Line 28 1040 – Line 56
1040A – Line 34 1040 – Line 57
1040A – Line 35 $10,960
2007 1040 – Line 46
1040A – Line 28 1040 – Line 56
1040A – Line 34 1040 – Line 57
1040A – Line 35 $11,390
2008 1040 – Line 46
1040A – Line 28 1040 – Line 55
1040A – Line 34 1040 – Line 56
1040A – Line 35 $11,650
What if I finalized more than three years ago?
If you finalized before 2005, there is a complication. If you are seeking a refund, the Revenue Code only allows you to amend your tax returns for the last three years. (The three years is calculated based on the date the taxes were due. A 2005 tax return was due by April 15, 2006, so you can amend 2005 taxes for a refund until April 15, 2009.)
If your tax liability minus credits was or will be greater than zero in any of the years from 2005 on, however, you should still amend your taxes, starting with the year you finalized your adoption. For example, if you finalized the adoption of one child with special needs from foster care in 2004, you should amend your 2004 taxes, figure out how much of the $10,390 credit you would have been able to use that year (which you cannot get a refund for), and carry forward the remainder. You would then amend the 2005, 2006, and 2007 taxes (until you’ve used up the entire credit).
How does the Child Tax Credit affect amended returns?
As described above, you need to complete Publication 972 for each year you are amending to figure out the Child Tax Credit and how much of the Adoption Tax Credit you can claim in that year (and then how much you might carry forward). If you already claimed the Child Tax Credit, you will still need to work through Publication 972’s Worksheet to figure out the proper amount of the Adoption Tax Credit you are able to use for a given year. Claiming the Adoption Tax Credit may affect whether you can claim the Child Tax Credit for the year for which you are amending. If your Child Tax Credit is reduced because you claim the Adoption Tax Credit, you should check to see if you can claim the Additional Child Tax Credit instead.
How do I amend my returns?
If you paid someone to prepare your taxes, you should ask them to amend your taxes for free since they failed to include the Adoption Tax Credit.
To amend your own taxes, complete Form 1040X, which can be found at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040x.pdf or by calling 1-800-829-1040. You will need copies of the returns you filed for each year you amend, plus blank copies of Form 8839 (the Adoption Tax Credit form) for each year you amend. Access previous year’s forms at http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/article/0,,id=98339,00.html.
If you are only amending the tax credits, you can start with line 6 of Form 1040X. The amounts on line 6 should remain the same, but you will note changes to the amounts on lines 7, 8, and 10 (Columns B and C). If you take the Child Tax Credit and/or Additional Child Tax Credit, you may have changes to line 14, Columns B and C, and line 18. Line 23 is the amount of your refund, which you should receive in four to six months.
What If I Have Additional Questions?
If you receive an adoption subsidy (assistance) for your child and have questions on whether it is taxable income or if you can claim that child as a dependent (and receive the Child Tax Credit), read NACAC’s fact sheet, Tax Issues Related to Adoption Assistance and Adoption, which can be found at: http://www.nacac.org/adoptionsubsidy/factsheets/taxes.html.
If you have additional questions on the Adoption Tax Credit or adoption subsidy, contact the North American Council on Adoptable Children at 651-644-3036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The amount of the adoption tax credit and income restrictions here are based on 2008 and 2009 amounts. There are cost of living adjustments each year, so for tax years 2010 and beyond the numbers will change. Form line numbers may change as well.
North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
970 Raymond Avenue, Suite 106
St. Paul, MN 55114