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8.2D.5 TITLE IV-E, Adoption Assistance Program, Payments, Termination
2.Section 473(a)(4)(B) of the Social Security Act states that no adoption assistance payment can be made, "to parents with respect to any child if the State determines that the parents are no longer legally responsible for the support of the child or if the State determines that the child is no longer receiving any support from such parents." When is a parent considered to be "no longer legally responsible for support" or not providing "any support" for the child?
3.Can a State agency automatically suspend the adoption assistance payment for the duration of an adopted child's placement in foster care? The State agency would reinstate the payment upon the child's return home.
4.Is it permissible for a State to include a statement in the title IV-E adoption assistance agreement to the effect that "The Departmentís obligation to provide for Federally funded adoption assistance payments and/or services is subject to the appropriation of State funds"?
Answer: Title IV-E adoption assistance is available on behalf of a child if s/he meets all of the eligibility criteria and the State agency enters into an adoption assistance agreement with the prospective adoptive parent(s) prior to the finalization of the adoption. The agreement must be signed by all parties to the agreement (namely, the adoptive parents and a State agency representative) in order to meet the requirements for an adoption assistance agreement.
Once an adoption assistance agreement is signed and in effect, it can be terminated under three circumstances only. Namely, (1) the child has attained the age of 18 (or the age of 21 if the State has determined that the child has a mental or physical disability which would warrant continuation of assistance); (2) the State determines that the adoptive parents are no longer legally responsible for support of the child; or (3) the State determines that the adoptive parents are no longer providing any support to the child.
Answer: A parent is considered no longer legally responsible for the support of a child when parental rights have been terminated or when the child becomes an emancipated minor, marries, or enlists in the military.
"Any support" includes various forms of financial support. The State may determine that payments for family therapy, tuition, clothing, maintenance of special equipment in the home, or services for the child's special needs, are acceptable forms of financial support. Consequently, the State may continue the adoption assistance subsidy, if it determines that the parent is, in fact, providing some form of financial support to the child.
Answer: No. An automatic suspension is, in effect, the equivalent to a termination of the adoption assistance payment and as such is unallowable under section 473(a)(4)(B) if the parent remains legally responsible or is providing any support for the child. However, consistent with section 473(a)(4)(B) of the Act, there may be circumstances in which adoptive parent(s) may be eligible for payments in a different amount. In these instances, a State may re-negotiate the agreement and reduce the payment for the duration of an adopted child's placement in foster care with the concurrence of the adoptive parent.t.
Answer: No. Although we understand that the State may experience difficulties in its ability to pay subsidies due to the State budget, such difficulties do not relieve or alter the State?s obligation under title IV-E to act in accordance with executed adoption assistance agreements. Accordingly, any statement that undermines the State?s obligation to honor the terms of the title IV-E adoption assistance agreement is not consistent with Federal requirements in sections 473(a)(1)(B)(ii) and 473(a)(3) of the Social Security Act. Once an agreement is signed, the State must obtain the concurrence of the adoptive parent if it wishes to make any changes in the payment amount with one exception. That exception is when there is an across-the-board reduction or increase in the foster care maintenance payment rate. In that circumstance, the State may adjust the adoption assistance payment without the adoptive parent's concurrence.
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