Adoption Assistance

The Adoption Assistance program seeks to support the placement of children with Special Needs into permanent adoptive homes. Without such support, these children are at risk of remaining in temporary foster care for long periods of time. In Georgia, children are identified as having “special needs” as it relates to adoption assistance when they meet one of the following criteria at the time of adoptive placement:

  • A child who 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.
  • A child with physical, mental, or emotional disability, as validated by a licensed physician or psychologist.
  • A child who is a member of a sibling group of 2 or more placed in the same home (for adoption).

Adoption Assistance must be applied for and approved, with an Adoption Assistance agreement signed prior to the finalization of the adoption. In all cases, it must be documented that the adoption would not be possible without adoption assistance.

Types of Adoption Assistance

  • Monthly Adoption Assistance Benefits
    • Ongoing monthly payments – Monthly payments to the adoptive parent(s), not to exceed the amount the child received in a family foster home placement; or not to exceed the amount the child would have received if he/she were in a family foster home placement.
    • Medicaid/Amerigroup coverage - Medical coverage, which continues to be provided if the child is placed for adoption in another state or moves with the adoptive family to another state, per the procedures of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA).
    • Non-Recurring Funds - One-time payment of fees related to adoption, not to exceed $1500.00 per child. Such payments may assist in covering legal fees, court costs, and other one-time adoption-related expenses which are not in conflict with state or federal law. Non-Recurring funds are approved automatically when Monthly Adoption Assistance has been approved.

A child in the custody of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) at the time of his/her adoption must meet special needs criteria to qualify for Monthly Adoption Assistance Benefits.

It is more difficult for a child who is not in DFCS custody to qualify for Monthly Adoption Assistance, as he/she must meet special needs criteria and Title IV-E (Federal funding) criteria. Title IV-E adoption assistance criteria are explained in Section 473 of the Social Security Act and in Chapter 12.1 of the state child welfare policy manual - http://odis.dhs.ga.gov.  

Note: SSI-eligible children are considered Title IV-E eligible.

Ongoing monthly payments and Medicaid/Amerigroup coverage continue until age 18, but only while the adoptive parents remain legally and financially responsible for the adopted youth. Youth placed for adoption through DFCS may be eligible to receive adoption assistance past age 18, but only while meeting specific educational criteria.

Adoption Assistance Applications are requested at the County DFCS office. The county holding legal custody handles applications for children in DFCS custody; the county of residence of the pre-adoptive parent(s) processes applications for children who are not in DFCS custody.

  • Non-Recurring ONLY Adoption Assistance
    • Describes cases in which only Non-Recurring Funds are approved [Ongoing monthly payments and Medicaid/Amerigroup coverage were either not approved or not requested].

Non-Recurring Only Adoption Assistance is an option for adoptive parents in private, non-DFCS adoptions where Title IV-E criteria are not met for Monthly Adoption Assistance, but where special needs criteria are met. This one-time, non-recurring benefit of up to $1500.00 per child only requires a special needs determination and that a Non-Recurring Only agreement be signed prior to the adoption finalization. Such payments may assist in covering legal fees, court costs, and other one-time adoption-related expenses which are not in conflict with state or federal law.

Non-Recurring ONLY Adoption Assistance Applications are requested at the DFCS office in the county in which the pre-adoptive parents reside.

State of Georgia Post Adoption Resources:

Special Services

Special Services provides state funding for one-time or short-term services which are not able to be reasonably obtained in the community and which are not covered by medical insurance. Special Services funds may be approved to assist with the cost of respite services, orthodontic services, specific medical/therapeutic treatment, etc. for children who are under age 18.

These funds are only available for children who were adopted through DFCS and who receive monthly adoption assistance benefits. Special Services funds are not available for children who are adopted privately.

Applications for Special Services funds are processed by the DFCS staff who are managing the adoption assistance case.

Georgia Center for Resources & Support

The Georgia Center for Resources & Support is available to assist families in locating needed resources, developing support groups, providing a “buddy” who has an adopted or foster child with similar special needs, or finding books and publications related to adoption issues. Adoptive families can also benefit from the Center’s website, which contains current information about community resources and which provides interactive training opportunities. Regional Resource Advisors are also available throughout the State of Georgia to assist adoptive families by providing advice, support, and training. The website is found at http://www.gaadoptionresources.org/, and the statewide phone number is 1-866-272-7368.

Crisis Intervention and Support Services

A Family Intervention (FIT) assists adoptive families of special needs children who have been placed in the home and who are receiving ongoing adoption assistance benefits. The FIT provides professional help to improve overall family functioning, preserve the family unit, and provide links to community resources.

When a parenting challenge becomes a serious problem, the FIT can provide early intervention services designed to prevent disruptions, dissolutions and to preserve the family unit. The program is made up of Mobile Intervention Teams, which include a Team Leader and an Intervention Specialist, who provide in-home family assessments and counseling to families on a statewide basis.

While the FIT is not designed to replace medical or therapeutic care, it does help the child and family identify and resolve problematic issues. Contact with the FIT is for a limited time only (60-90 days). When Intervention services are discontinued, families are referred to community resources coordinated by the FIT.

To learn more about this service and apply, the adoptive family should contact the child’s adoption assistance case manager. The family may also contact the Social Services Administration Unit (SSAU) at 404-657-3550 to speak with an adoption assistance Program Consultant. The family may visit the Georgia Mentor website at http://www.ga-mentor.com or call Georgia Mentor at 478-785-0005 for further information.

Adopted Teen Empowerment and Mentoring Program (ATEAM)

The Adopted Teen Empowerment & Mentoring Program (ATEAM) is designed for adopted teens in the 6th through 12th grades. ATEAM provides participants with an opportunity for mutual support and self-expression through group interactions with other adopted teens. This group consists of teens and mentors who meet monthly at host sites in each region across the state. Meeting times are generally from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. one Saturday per month, with occasional weekend retreats planned. Parent transportation is required. Parent training/support groups are offered, as well. Pre-registration is required for the program, as each site is limited to 30 youth participants. ATEAM also provides an annual adoptive family and youth training seminar. 

Eligible teens are youth receiving adoption assistance who had been in the custody of a state agency. This program may not be well suited for teens who experience difficulties interacting within a large group setting. Contact the ATEAM Program Administrator for more information about ATEAM, including local activities and contact numbers for each region of the state:

Family Matters Consulting, Inc.
ATEAM Program Administrator
Chris Greer
Telephone: 770-965-9336
Fax: 770-818-5815
C_greer@bellsouth.net

Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry

Adoptees, birth parents, or siblings who have been permanently separated through adoption often reach a time in their lives when they want more information about their biological family. This “need to know” may be due to medical, genetic, genealogical, or personal reasons. The Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry provides the following services:

  • Assistance to adult adoptees in establishing contact with the adoptee’s biological parents, with the expressed consent of the biological parent(s).
  • Assistance to adult siblings in establishing contact with each other (provided at least one of them is an adoptee), with the expressed consent of the sibling who is being sought.
  • Non-identifying summaries to adult adoptees or to the adoptive parents of minor adoptees. These summaries provide non-identifying information related to the birth of the adoptee and the social, health history, and background of the birth parents.
  • Assistance to biological parents in registering their consent to contact/release birth family identifying information or to register their desire not to have contact and preventing the release of birth family identifying information from the sealed adoption record.
  • Assistance to siblings in registering their consent to have contact or to register their desire not to have contact with the searcher. 

For more information, call the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry at 404-657-3555 or visit their website at www.ga-adoptionreunion.com.

Other Community Resources (not offered through DFCS):

ADOPTS Services Program

Bethany Christian Services provides a variety of post-adoption services to strengthen adoptive and foster/adopt families in Georgia.  

Services include:

  • Trauma-informed counseling (ADOPTS) for children who experienced abuse or neglect prior to adoption
  • Coaching for adoptive parents
  • Crisis Intervention

Eligibility

  • A child/adolescent has been placed in your home for adoption OR you finalized an adoption
  • Your adopted child/adolescent is (or was) in the legal custody of the State prior to adoptive placement;
  • Your family lives in Georgia

Contact:
Meredith Connor, LCSW
ADOPTS Coordinator / Family Therapist
770-455-7111
mconnor@bethany.org

Further information can be located at the website: www.bethanylifelines.org

Camp to Belong – Georgia

Camp to Belong-Georgia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reuniting brothers and sisters placed in separate foster, adoptive or kinship homes through Summer Camp Programs and year-round events. Summer camp programs include:

  • Traditional camp activities: horseback riding, swimming, canoeing, and rock climbing
  • Trained counselors and special programs which help siblings to connect and to learn the value of relationships
  • Life Seminar for older children, to address education/career planning and adult living skills (conflict resolution, anger management, diversity tolerance, and relationship building)
  • Special help for siblings whose relationships have been strained by separation
  • Birthday celebrations for siblings unable to share birthdays during the year
  • Teaching children how to become their own best advocates

Children from age 8 to18 who are in foster care, kinship care, or adoptive placements and who live apart from one or more of their siblings are eligible to attend Camp to Belong. DHS/DFCS Case Managers and Supervisors, as well as foster and adoptive parents may refer children to Camp to Belong-Georgia.

Inquiries should be directed to:
Traci Bensley, Executive Director
Telephone: 678-521-7670
executivedirector@camptobelong-ga.org

Further information can be located at the website: http://camptobelong-ga.org/index.html

Childcare

Childcare assistance is not available directly through DHS Post Adoption Services.  However, the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of children in Georgia. For more information on DECAL, visit their website at http://decal.ga.gov/BftS/About.aspx. In addition, see Section 6100 – Child Care and Programmatic Requirements in the Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) Manual which is available at Childcare and Parent Services – MAN3540.                        

Please Note: Adoptive parents must meet the basic work and income requirements of CAPS.  However, adoptive parents who receive adoption assistance benefits are not required to count those benefits as income when applying for childcare assistance through CAPS.  Also, if an adoptive parent can provide proof from a doctor or other licensed professional that their child has special needs, such as a medical, behavioral, developmental or mental health diagnosis, they may be considered for “priority status”, and not be affected by State or County fund restrictions.

Organizations Supportive of Special Needs Children:

ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service (search by state to locate Georgia’s respite) 

Easter Seals

Friends of disabled adults and children (FODAC)

March of Dimes

United Way

For more information regarding Adoption Assistance and Post Adoption Services, please contact the Social Services Administration Unit (SSAU) at 404-657-3550.