What is Adoption Assistance?

Adoption Assistance provides financial assistance in certain defined cases and a county Children & Youth Social Services Agency will determine the child’s eligibility for adoption assistance. See 55 Pa. Code Section 3140.201, et. Seq. and Adoption Opportunities Act 62 P.S. Section 771-774.

Eligibility (Section 3140.202) shall be found for an adoptive child who meets the following requirements:

  1. The child is 17 years or younger.
  2. Parental rights have been terminated under the Adoption Act.
  3. The child is in the legal custody of the county agency or another agency approved by the Department. See also: C.B. & J.B. v. Pa. DPW, 567 Pa. 141, 786 A.2d 176 (2001).
  4. The child shall have at least one of the following characteristics:
    • A physical, mental or emotional condition or handicap;
    • A genetic condition which indicates a high risk of developing a disease or handicap;
    • be a member of a minority group;
    • be a member of a sibling group;
    • be 5 years of age or older.

The law requires that prior to certification for adoption assistance, the county agency shall make reasonable efforts to find an adoptive home without providing adoption assistance. Evidence of this effort shall be recorded in the case record and include registration with the Department’s adoption exchange for at least three (3) months. If it would be against the best interests of the child because of factors, such as the existence of significant emotional ties with prospective adoptive parents while in the care of the parents as a foster child, then the requirements of this subsection do not apply.

Note that an agreement for adoption assistance must be executed at or before the final adoption decree. Some of the potential benefits of adoption assistance can be medical coverage, non-recurring adoption expenses (including attorney fees), monthly adoption assistance payments, and mental health/mental retardation services.

The adoption assistance will terminate when:

  • the child reaches 18 years of age, or
  • the adoptive parents are no longer legally responsible for the support of the child, or
  • the child is no longer receiving support from the adoptive parents, or
  • the adoptive parents request termination of the assistance.

Other: See Gruzinski v. DPW.  731 A.2d 246, ___ Pa. Cmwlth. ____ (1999) re eligibility to apply for adoption assistance after adoption has been finalized and duty of CYS to notify prospective adoptive parents of child’s eligibility for adoption assistance.