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ADOPTION AND GUARDIANSHIP ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

Sec473[42 U.S.C. 673] (a)(1)(A) Each State having a plan approved under this part shall enter into adoption assistance agreements (as defined in section 475(3)) with the adoptive parents of children with special needs.

(B) Under any adoption assistance agreement entered into by a State with parents who adopt a child with special needs, the State—

(i) shall make payments of nonrecurring adoption expenses incurred by or on behalf of such parents in connection with the adoption of such child, directly through the State agency or through another public or nonprofit private agency, in amounts determined under paragraph (3), and

(ii) in any case where the child meets the requirements of paragraph (2), may make adoption assistance payments to such parents, directly through the State agency or through another public or nonprofit private agency, in amounts so determined.

(2)(A) For purposes of paragraph (1)(B)(ii), a child meets the requirements of this paragraph if—

(i) in the case of a child who is not an applicable child for the fiscal year (as defined in subsection (e)), the child—

(I)(aa)(AA) was removed from the home of a relative specified in section 406(a) (as in effect on July 16, 1996) and placed in foster care in accordance with a voluntary placement agreement with respect to which Federal payments are provided under section 474 (or section 403, as such section was in effect on July 16, 1996), or in accordance with a judicial determination to the effect that continuation in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child; and

(BB) met the requirements of section 472(a)(3) with respect to the home referred to in subitem (AA) of this item.

(bb) meets all of the requirements of title XVI with respect to eligibility for supplemental security income benefits; or

(cc) is a child whose costs in a foster family home or child-care institution are covered by the foster care maintenance payments being made with respect to the minor parent of the child as provided in section 475(4)(B); and

(II) has been determined by the State, pursuant to subsection (c)(1) of this section, to be a child with special needs; or

(ii) in the case of a child who is an applicable child for the fiscal year (as so defined), the child—

(I)(aa) at the time of initiation of adoption proceedings was in the care of a public or licensed private child placement agency or Indian tribal organization pursuant to—

(AA) an involuntary removal of the child from the home in accordance with a judicial determination to the effect that continuation in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child; or

(BB) a voluntary placement agreement or voluntary relinquishment;

(bb) meets all medical or disability requirements of title XVI with respect to eligibility for supplemental security income benefits; or

(cc) was residing in a foster family home or child care institution with the child’s minor parent, and the child’s minor parent was in such foster family home or child care institution pursuant to—

(AA) an involuntary removal of the child from the home in accordance with a judicial determination to the effect that continuation in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child; or

(BB) a voluntary placement agreement or voluntary relinquishment; and

(II) has been determined by the State, pursuant to subsection (c)(2), to be a child with special needs.

(B) Section 472(a)(4) shall apply for purposes of subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, in any case in which the child is an alien described in such section.

(C) A child shall be treated as meeting the requirements of this paragraph for the purpose of paragraph (1)(B)(ii) if—

(i) in the case of a child who is not an applicable child for the fiscal year (as defined in subsection (e)), the child—

(I) meets the requirements of subparagraph (A)(i)(II);

(II) was determined eligible for adoption assistance payments under this part with respect to a prior adoption;

(III) is available for adoption because—

(aa) the prior adoption has been dissolved, and the parental rights of the adoptive parents have been terminated; or

(bb) the child’s adoptive parents have died; and

(IV) fails to meet the requirements of subparagraph (A)(i) but would meet such requirements if—

(aa) the child were treated as if the child were in the same financial and other circumstances the child was in the last time the child was determined eligible for adoption assistance payments under this part; and

(bb) the prior adoption were treated as never having occurred; or

(ii) in the case of a child who is an applicable child for the fiscal year (as so defined), the child meets the requirements of subparagraph (A)(ii)(II), is determined eligible for adoption assistance payments under this part with respect to a prior adoption (or who would have been determined eligible for such payments had the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997[227] been in effect at the time that such determination would have been made), and is available for adoption because the prior adoption has been dissolved and the parental rights of the adoptive parents have been terminated or because the child’s adoptive parents have died.

(D) In determining the eligibility for adoption assistance payments of a child in a legal guardianship arrangement described in section 471(a)(28), the placement of the child with the relative guardian involved and any kinship guardianship assistance payments made on behalf of the child shall be considered never to have been made.

(3) The amount of the payments to be made in any case under clauses (i) and (ii) of paragraph (1)(B) shall be determined through agreement between the adoptive parents and the State or local agency administering the program under this section, which shall take into consideration the circumstances of the adopting parents and the needs of the child being adopted, and may be readjusted periodically, with the concurrence of the adopting parents (which may be specified in the adoption assistance agreement), depending upon changes in such circumstances. However, in no case may the amount of the adoption assistance payment made under clause (ii) of paragraph (1)(B) exceed the foster care maintenance payment which would have been paid during the period if the child with respect to whom the adoption assistance payment is made had been in a foster family home.

(4)(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a payment may not be made pursuant to this section to parents or relative guardians with respect to a child—

(i) who has attained—

(I) 18 years of age, or such greater age as the State may elect under section 475(8)(B)(iii); or

(II) 21 years of age, if the State determines that the child has a mental or physical handicap which warrants the continuation of assistance;

(ii) who has not attained 18 years of age, if the State determines that the parents or relative guardians, as the case may be, are no longer legally responsible for the support of the child; or

(iii) if the State determines that the child is no longer receiving any support from the parents or relative guardians, as the case may be.

(B) Parents or relative guardians who have been receiving adoption assistance payments or kinship guardianship assistance payments under this section shall keep the State or local agency administering the program under this section informed of circumstances which would, pursuant to this subsection, make them ineligible for the payments, or eligible for the payments in a different amount.

(5) For purposes of this part, individuals with whom a child (who has been determined by the State, pursuant to subsection (c), to be a child with special needs) is placed for adoption in accordance with applicable State and local law shall be eligible for such payments, during the period of the placement, on the same terms and subject to the same conditions as if such individuals had adopted such child.

(6)(A) For purposes of paragraph (1)(B)(i), the term “nonrecurring adoption expenses” means reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses which are directly related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs and which are not incurred in violation of State or Federal law.

(B) A State’s payment of nonrecurring adoption expenses under an adoption assistance agreement shall be treated as an expenditure made for the proper and efficient administration of the State plan for purposes of section 474(a)(3)(E).

(7)(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, no payment may be made to parents with respect to any applicable child for a fiscal year that—

(i) would be considered a child with special needs under subsection (c)(2);

(ii) is not a citizen or resident of the United States; and

(iii) was adopted outside of the United States or was brought into the United States for the purpose of being adopted.

(B) Subparagraph (A) shall not be construed as prohibiting payments under this part for an applicable child described in subparagraph (A) that is placed in foster care subsequent to the failure, as determined by the State, of the initial adoption of the child by the parents described in subparagraph (A).

(8) A State shall spend an amount equal to the amount of savings (if any) in State expenditures under this part resulting from the application of paragraph (2)(A)(ii) to all applicable children for a fiscal year to provide to children or families any service (including post-adoption services) that may be provided under this part or part B, and shall document how such amounts are spent, including on post-adoption services[228].

(b)(1) For purposes of title XIX, any child who is described in paragraph (3) is deemed to be a dependent child as defined in section 406 (as in effect as of July 16, 1996) and deemed to be a recipient of aid to families with dependent children under part A of this title (as so in effect) in the State where such child resides.

(2) For purposes of subtitle I of title XX, any child who is described in paragraph (3) is deemed to be a minor child in a needy family under a State program funded under part A of this title and deemed to be a recipient of assistance under such part.

(3) A child described in this paragraph is any child—

(A)(i) who is a child described in subsection (a)(2), and

(ii) with respect to whom an adoption assistance agreement is in effect under this section (whether or not adoption assistance payments are provided under the agreement or are being made under this section), including any such child who has been placed for adoption in accordance with applicable State and local law (whether or not an interlocutory or other judicial decree of adoption has been issued),

(B) with respect to whom foster care maintenance payments are being made under section 472, or

(C) with respect to whom kinship guardianship assistance payments are being made pursuant to subsection (d).

(4) For purposes of paragraphs (1) and (2), a child whose costs in a foster family home or child-care institution are covered by the foster care maintenance payments being made with respect to the child’s minor parent, as provided in section 475(4)(B), shall be considered a child with respect to whom foster care maintenance payments are being made under section 472.

(c) For purposes of this section—

(1) in the case of a child who is not an applicable child for a fiscal year, the child shall not be considered a child with special needs unless—

(A) the State has determined that the child cannot or should not be returned to the home of his parents; and

(B) the State had first determined (A) that there exists with respect to the child a specific factor or condition (such as his ethnic background, age, or membership in a minority or sibling group, or the presence of factors such as medical conditions or physical, mental, or emotional handicaps) because of which it is reasonable to conclude that such child cannot be placed with adoptive parents without providing adoption assistance under this section or medical assistance under title XIX, and (B) that, except where it would be against the best interests of the child because of such factors as the existence of significant emotional ties with prospective adoptive parents while in the care of such parents as a foster child, a reasonable, but unsuccessful, effort has been made to place the child with appropriate adoptive parents without providing adoption assistance under this section or medical assistance under title XIX; or

(2) in the case of a child who is an applicable child for a fiscal year, the child shall not be considered a child with special needs unless—

(A) the State has determined, pursuant to a criterion or criteria established by the State, that the child cannot or should not be returned to the home of his parents;

(B)(i) the State has determined that there exists with respect to the child a specific factor or condition (such as ethnic background, age, or membership in a minority or sibling group, or the presence of factors such as medical conditions or physical, mental, or emotional handicaps) because of which it is reasonable to conclude that the child cannot be placed with adoptive parents without providing adoption assistance under this section and medical assistance under title XIX; or

(ii) the child meets all medical or disability requirements of title XVI with respect to eligibility for supplemental security income benefits; and

(C) the State has determined that, except where it would be against the best interests of the child because of such factors as the existence of significant emotional ties with prospective adoptive parents while in the care of the parents as a foster child, a reasonable, but unsuccessful, effort has been made to place the child with appropriate adoptive parents without providing adoption assistance under this section or medical assistance under title XIX.

(d) Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payments for Children.—

(1) Kinship guardianship assistance agreement.—

(A) In general.—In order to receive payments under section 474(a)(5), a State shall.—

(i) negotiate and enter into a written, binding kinship guardianship assistance agreement with the prospective relative guardian of a child who meets the requirements of this paragraph; and

(ii) provide the prospective relative guardian with a copy of the agreement.

(B) Minimum requirements.—The agreement shall specify, at a minimum.—

(i) the amount of, and manner in which, each kinship guardianship assistance payment will be provided under the agreement, and the manner in which the payment may be adjusted periodically, in consultation with the relative guardian, based on the circumstances of the relative guardian and the needs of the child;

(ii) the additional services and assistance that the child and relative guardian will be eligible for under the agreement;

(iii) the procedure by which the relative guardian may apply for additional services as needed; and

(iv) subject to subparagraph (D), that the State will pay the total cost of nonrecurring expenses associated with obtaining legal guardianship of the child, to the extent the total cost does not exceed $2,000.

(C) Interstate applicability.—The agreement shall provide that the agreement shall remain in effect without regard to the State residency of the relative guardian.

(D) No effect on federal reimbursement.—Nothing in subparagraph (B)(iv) shall be construed as affecting the ability of the State to obtain reimbursement from the Federal Government for costs described in that subparagraph.

(2) Limitations on amount of kinship guardianship assistance payment.—A kinship guardianship assistance payment on behalf of a child shall not exceed the foster care maintenance payment which would have been paid on behalf of the child if the child had remained in a foster family home.

(3) Child’s eligibility for a kinship guardianship assistance payment.—

(A) In general.—A child is eligible for a kinship guardianship assistance payment under this subsection if the State agency determines the following:

(i) The child has been—

(I) removed from his or her home pursuant to a voluntary placement agreement or as a result of a judicial determination to the effect that continuation in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child; and

(II) eligible for foster care maintenance payments under section 472 while residing for at least 6 consecutive months in the home of the prospective relative guardian.

(ii) Being returned home or adopted are not appropriate permanency options for the child.

(iii) The child demonstrates a strong attachment to the prospective relative guardian and the relative guardian has a strong commitment to caring permanently for the child.

(iv) With respect to a child who has attained 14 years of age, the child has been consulted regarding the kinship guardianship arrangement.

(B) Treatment of siblings.—With respect to a child described in subparagraph (A) whose sibling or siblings are not so described—

(i) the child and any sibling of the child may be placed in the same kinship guardianship arrangement, in accordance with section 471(a)(31), if the State agency and the relative agree on the appropriateness of the arrangement for the siblings; and

(ii) kinship guardianship assistance payments may be paid on behalf of each sibling so placed.

(e) Applicable Child Defined.—

(1) On the basis of age.—

(A) In general.—Subject to paragraphs (2) and (3), in this section, the term “applicable child” means a child for whom an adoption assistance agreement is entered into under this section during any fiscal year described in subparagraph (B) if the child attained the applicable age for that fiscal year before the end of that fiscal year.

(B) Applicable age.—For purposes of subparagraph (A), the applicable age for a fiscal year is as follows:

In the case of fiscal year: The applicable age is:
2010 16
2011 14
2012 12
2013 10
2014 8
2015 6
2016 4
2017 2
2018 or thereafter any age.

(2) Exception for duration in care.—Notwithstanding paragraph (1) of this subsection, beginning with fiscal year 2010, such term shall include a child of any age on the date on which an adoption assistance agreement is entered into on behalf of the child under this section if the child—

(A) has been in foster care under the responsibility of the State for at least 60 consecutive months; and

(B) meets the requirements of subsection (a)(2)(A)(ii).

(3) Exception for member of a sibling group.—Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection, beginning with fiscal year 2010, such term shall include a child of any age on the date on which an adoption assistance agreement is entered into on behalf of the child under this section without regard to whether the child is described in paragraph (2)(A) of this subsection if the child—

(A) is a sibling of a child who is an applicable child for the fiscal year under paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection;

(B) is to be placed in the same adoption placement as an applicable child for the fiscal year who is their sibling; and

(C) meets the requirements of subsection (a)(2)(A)(ii).


[227]  P.L. 105-89; 111 Stat. 2115.

[228]  P.L. 112-34, §106(c), inserted “, and shall document how such amounts are spent, including on post-adoption services”. For the general effective date [October 1, 2011] and the delay permitted if State legislation is required, see Vol. II, P.L. 112-34, §107.