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.
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
State of Georgia Post Adoption Resources:
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 or call the Social Services Administration Unit at 404-657-3550.
Georgia Center for Resources & Support (GCARS)
The Georgia Center for Resources & Support is available to assist families in locating needed resources. All adoptive families living in Georgia are invited to join the GACRS forever family Facebook group: The Adoptive Family Journey. This group allows adoptive parents to connect, share, and learn from others about their adoptive family journey. Within the group, families are encouraged to discuss interests and concerns about parenting an adopted child or children. To join, visit the GACRS Facebook page or the GACRS website.
The GACRS website, located at www.gacrs.org, provides a variety of information and resources for adoptive and foster parents, such as:
- Directory of resources available in Georgia for adoptive and foster parents
- Calendar of upcoming trainings and events that are available throughout Georgia
- Virtual certificate trainings
- Online access to the GACRS lending library which allows parents to request books, articles, and DVDs by e-mail or phone
Regional Resource Advisors are available throughout Georgia to assist adoptive families by providing advice, support, and training. Resource Advisors and GACRS staff can be reached through email at: [email protected] or by phone at: 1-866-A PARENT (1-866-272-7368). Parents need to provide their name, county of residence, and contact information, and a Resource Advisor will respond.
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.
Information about this program can be found on the web at http://www.ga-mentor.com. Georgia MENTOR may also be contacted to discuss program services at 478-333-2971. Adoptive parents will need to contact the child’s adoption assistance case manager in order to apply for Crisis Intervention and Support Services; or adoptive parents may contact the Social Services Administration Unit (SSAU) at 404-657-3550 to speak with an adoption assistance Program Consultant to discuss the application process.
Adopted Teen Empowerment and Mentoring Program (ATEAM)
The Adopted Teen Empowerment & Mentoring Program (ATEAM) is a statewide post-adoption service program designed for adopted teens in 6th—12th grades. The ATEAM provides teen participants with an opportunity for mutual support and self-expression through group interactions with other adopted teens and is hosted monthly by both public and private colleges and youth facilities across the state of Georgia. ATEAM support meetings are held one Saturday each month and are generally from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm with one-weekend leadership retreat planned each year.
Adoption adds to the complexity of adolescent development and adopted teenagers may need extra support in dealing with certain adoption issues. For those who were adopted at an older age from the foster care system, this type of supportive environment may be helpful. In most cases, even when teens appear happy and well- adjusted in their adoptive families, they may still be dealing with the effects of their early life experience.
With the help of adult mentors, ATEAM participants strive to understand the unique aspects of adoption and are encouraged to express their concerns openly in a safe environment. For many participants, this type of peer support group is their first opportunity to interact with others who were adopted and to see that their experiences and feelings related to adoption are normal. By hearing how others have coped with their feelings, participants can oftentimes inspire other adopted teens to work through their own issues and learn to grow in self-acceptance and self-respect.
In addition, the ATEAM offers parent support, educational resources, training materials and respite opportunities for adoptive parents. This program is designed to offer this special population the additional support they sometimes need, in order to help them forge even stronger family attachments and enhance their future relationships.
Eligibility: Eligible teen participants are those who are currently receiving Adoption Assistance funds and/or that have been in the custody of a state agency and are either in an adoptive placement or a finalized adoption. The ATEAM welcomes adopted teens that will benefit from becoming part of a supportive group where there is mutual respect, and participants demonstrate an acceptance of others in a group setting. This may not be well suited for teens that may experience difficulties interacting within a large group setting.
Pre-registration is required for all participants, as space is limited at each host site.
Ties That Bind: Parents and Children Strengthening the Bond – Annual Adoptive Parent and Youth Training Seminar
With a focus on the lifelong aspects of adoption, this annual training seminar celebrates, promotes and explores issues related to adoption, with its primary focus being to support and strengthen adoptive families. Through this event, adoptive parents and foster to adopt parents who have adoptive children placed in their homes are provided an excellent opportunity to increase their knowledge base and skills concerning adoption-related issues, services for adoptive families and the parenting of adopted children. A wide variety of workshops are offered on topics such as understanding developmental assessments, parenting children with complex medical issues, coping with attachment-related issues, guidance and behavioral concerns, identifying emotional triggers, special educational services, supporting children through developmental stages, and much more.
The Ties That Bind Training Seminar is truly a family-centered event, with all ages welcome. In addition to childcare, age-appropriate workshops and fun-filled activities are provided for all children. There is a Teen Leadership Program that provides teen participants with exciting opportunities for personal growth. Teens are offered the opportunity to learn valuable life skills that focus on making positive choices, overcoming obstacles, developing critical thinking, reducing violence, and setting goals. Parents can enjoy the seminar secure in the knowledge that their children are nearby and enjoying a positive and fun learning experience themselves.
Family Matters Consulting, Inc.
Phone: 1-877-669-0634 or 770-881-7789
Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry
Adoptees, birthparents, 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 an adult adoptee in order to establish 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.
- Provides an adult adoptee or adoptive parents of an adoptee under age 18 with non-identifying information from the sealed adoption record without having to obtain a court order.
- 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 toll free at 1-800-615-7976 or at 404-657-3555 or visit their website at www.ga-adoptionreunion.com.
Other Community Resources (not offered through DFCS):
ADOPTSSM Services Program
Bethany Christian Services provides a variety of post-adoption services to strengthen adoptive and foster/adopt families in Georgia.
- Trauma-informed counseling (ADOPTSSM) for children who experienced abuse or neglect prior to adoption
- Coaching for adoptive parents
- Crisis Intervention
- 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
Meredith Connor, LCSW
ADOPTS Coordinator / Family Therapist
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
Further information can be located at the website: https://www.camptobelong-ga.org/
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 childcare 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 http://odis.dhs.ga.gov under 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)
Friends of disabled adults and children (FODAC )
March of Dimes:
For more information regarding Adoption Assistance and Post Adoption Services, please contact the Social Services Administration Unit (SSAU) at 404-657-3550.