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Appendix 1715.3: Negotiation of Adoption Assistance Discussion Guide

CPS September 2003

The following guide is for use in negotiating adoption assistance agreements, along with the adoption assistance worksheet, information provided by the adoptive family, information in the child's case record, and information in the adoptive family record including the adoptive home study.

The adoption assistance agreement permits specification of two separate monetary amounts with different durations.

Exceptional Initial Placement Expenses

  ·  If this is a sibling group placement, how does the family plan to incorporate the children into the home? Do they have adequate furniture, space and supplies? What additional supplies and/or furniture are needed? Is any remodeling of the home required in order to make the placement? Can the placement be made without providing help with exceptional placement expense items?

  ·  If the child being placed has disabilities, are any special accommodations required such as ramps and lifts? How does the family plan to provide for these needs? Will insurance, Medicaid, or other resources offset some or all of the costs?

 ·  Is there a need for special or additional clothing needed for the child because the child is being placed in a climate with severe weather or the child's clothing is completely inadequate?

 ·  What other resources are available to help with these expenses? What is the expected duration of the expense in months? Divide total up front costs into monthly payments of limited duration.

 ·  What are the reasonable projected costs and how much does the family expect to need to handle those costs?

Special Maintenance

  ·  What health or behavioral care needs does the child have? If the child has significant health care or behavioral care needs, does the care require frequent medical and/or therapy appointments? Do the appointments result in a loss of wages or increase in child care costs for other children in the home? Is out-of-town travel necessary?

  ·  Does the child have specialized ongoing maintenance needs such as adaptive clothing, specialized food/equipment as a result of a chronic health condition?

  ·  Is attendant care needed for the child? If yes, how frequently and at what cost? Will other programs or Medicaid assist with the cost?

  ·  What is the projected cost for the identified needs?

  ·  How does the family plan to provide for these needs? Will insurance, Medicaid, or other resources be available to offset some or all of the costs?

Child Care

  ·  If both parents are employed outside the home, how will care be provided? How long will care be needed? Will it be needed only until the child begins school? Will child care be needed for summer and/or school holidays?

  ·  If child care is unrelated to employment, why is the care needed? Example: Care may be needed on a routine basis in order to allow the parent to care for another family member without having to also care for the child at the same time. This could permit the parent to help with the care of an aging parent or another sibling who requires frequent trips away from home.

  ·  How does the family plan to provide for these needs? What other resources are available to offset some or all of the costs?

  ·  Will the parents need money to help pay for the cost of that care and if so, how much per month and for how long will assistance be needed?

Supportive Educational Needs

  ·  Does the child have special education needs? What is the school system doing to meet those needs?

  ·  What are the unmet needs and how can they be met? What is the cost and duration of extra services such as tutoring?

  ·  If the parents' requests help with private school tuition, are all of the requirements for assisting with private schooling documented?

Maintaining Sibling/Other Family Contact

  ·  If the child has siblings in foster care, another placement, or with family members important to the child, does the child visit with them? How frequent have the visits been? What arrangements and agreements have been made to continue contact?

  ·  Will there be extraordinary expenses and costs such as airfares in order to visit with each other? Will they require help paying for those visits and what will the cost be?

Routine Maintenance

  ·  How does this adoption significantly increase the family's maintenance expenses? What specific expenses will be significantly increased and by how much?

  ·  Does the family have very limited income and resources? Is that temporary or permanent? Does this family have a special bond with the child? For example, are they related to the child or the child's foster parents? Are there special circumstances in the family that impairs the parent's ability to provide for the child(ren) temporarily or permanently such as age, retirement, school attendance, poor health or unemployment?

  ·  If this is a foster parent/relative placement, to what extent, if any, will the loss of foster care maintenance significantly impair the ability of the family to provide for the child's basic necessities? How did the family intend to manage with less support?

  ·  Is this a sibling group placement and will costs be significantly greater than what the family initially planned when they decided to adopt? What are those costs?

  ·  Will incorporation of the child or sibling group into the home require the family to incur additional long-term housing costs as a result of a needed move to larger quarters or making home improvements to accommodate the adoption?

  ·  Is the child being placed significantly delayed in an aspect of development and therefore especially in need of long-term exposure to special activities than is usual for most children? What are those developmental delays? What are the activities and what are the increased costs?

  ·  If both parents are employed, is one parent going to reduce/change their employment in order to be at home with the children?

  ·  Does the child have needs that require the full time attention or nearly full time attention of one or both parents?

  ·  What plans do the adoptive parents have for providing for the child's routine maintenance? Do they understand they will be responsible for the child's support as any other parent is responsible for supporting their children? After paying monthly bills, how much disposable income is there? Do they think they will need some help with the child's maintenance? Why? Is help with the child's maintenance essential? What is the least they will need help with in order to be able to adopt?

Negotiating the Terms of the Adoption Assistance Agreement

Negotiating the adoption assistance agreement consists of the adoptive parents and staff jointly identifying the child's known service needs and resources for meeting those needs including the family's resources, Medicaid, the public school and mental health systems, and other community or private resources and services in order to translate the needs into a need for adoption assistance.

To the extent possible, the discussion about the need for assistance must take into consideration both current and future needs. Should the child's circumstances change, the adoptive family may request renegotiation of the agreement due to a change in the child's circumstances.

Additional Discussion Points

  ·  What is the family's monthly income? Is it the same as reported in the Parenting Application, Form 2286 or the adoption home study? If different, how? How many in the family are dependent on the family income for support? Are any children attending college and do the parent's pay for the cost of those expenses?

  ·  What community resources are available to help with the child's service needs? Is the child already using them and is the family aware of those resources?

  ·  Does the child have income that will move with the child into adoption such as RSDI benefits? Does the family understand those benefits must be used before adoption assistance to meet the child's needs?

  ·  Is the child with a disability eligible for SSI benefits? Does the family understand they can elect to receive SSI benefits that also includes Medicaid coverage over adoption assistance benefits and vise versa? Does the family understand the consequences of electing SSI benefits over adoption assistance?

  ·  Will the family be able to add the child to their health insurance? If the child is moving out-of-state and the receiving state will not provide Medicaid coverage, how does the family plan to provide for the child's health insurance needs? If Texas Medicaid is provided, will the family's health care providers be willing to enroll in the Texas Medicaid program? If not, should Medicaid coverage be excluded from the agreement?

  ·  Are there any special or unusual circumstances in the family that need to be considered when negotiating the adoption assistance agreement?

  ·  For how long will adoption assistance be needed?

  ·  Will an agreement for deferred assistance meet the child's needs at this time?

Arriving at a Payment Amount

1.   Begin with a "zero" need amount.

2.   Reviews the worksheet completed by the adoptive parents and discusses each item as appropriate to the child being placed.

3.   Factor for the child's current and projected needs as identified above and the projected costs of those needs.

4.   Factor for the child's health/behavioral care needs not covered by Medicaid or the family's health insurance, if any.

5.   Consider all community resources available for meeting identified needs. Costs for services that a child is entitled to receive from a public entity are not included in the adoption assistance payment.

6.   When the adoptive family must have help with providing for the child's routine maintenance, determine the amount of increased costs resulting from the child's placement.

7.   Determine if there are any short-term needs, the amount, and duration.

8.   Determine if there are any long-term needs, the amount, and duration.

9.   Factor the family's current and projected income, expenses and any special circumstances that impact their ability to support the child.

10. Consider any income the child will bring into the adoption.

11. Determine with the family the amount they will provide to meet the child's needs and subtract that amount from the monthly need.

12. The remainder, if any, is the unmet need and if not in excess of the payment ceiling is the monthly payment amount that can be provided by DFPS. If the unmet need amount exceeds the payment ceiling, the payment ceiling becomes the maximum amount.

13. Determine how long the assistance will be needed.

14. Prepare and execute the appropriate adoption assistance agreement.

Note: The adoption assistance agreement provides for two payments amounts and payment periods. The total amount authorized cannot exceed the maximum adoption assistance payment ceiling.

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