Effective date: 12/16/2018
(1) The purpose of adoption subsidy is to make available to prospective adoptive parents financial aid which would enable them to adopt a special needs child. Every adoptive family must be advised of the availability of adoption subsidy and the purpose for which it is intended. Except as set forth in subsection (6), below, placement without subsidy must be the placement of choice unless it can be shown that such placement is not in the best interest of the child.
Terms Used In Florida Regulations 65C-16.013
- Appeal: A request made after a trial, asking another court (usually the court of appeals) to decide whether the trial was conducted properly. To make such a request is "to appeal" or "to take an appeal." One who appeals is called the appellant.
- Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
(a) If the Department or community-based-care (CBC) agency has responsibility for placement and care of the child, the CBC agency in the county where the court has jurisdiction is responsible for entering into the Adoption Assistance Agreement and paying the adoption subsidy, even if the child is placed in an adoptive home in another county.
(b) If the Department or CBC agency does not have responsibility for placement and care of the child, the CBC agency in the adoptive parents’ county of residence is responsible for determining whether the child meets the definition of special needs, entering into the Adoption Assistance Agreement and paying the adoption subsidy.
(c) When the need for subsidy is not determined prior to placement, and the adoptive parents feel they have been wrongly denied subsidy benefits on behalf of an adopted child, they have the right to appeal the denial pursuant to Chapter 120, F.S. If it is found that the subsidy was wrongly denied, retroactive payment will be made dating back to the date the family officially requested subsidy in writing. Retroactive payment dating back to the date of placement will not be approved.
(3) Medical or mental health evaluations shall be required to document the need for maintenance subsidy that exceeds the statewide standard foster care board rate. When this is the case, these evaluations must be no more than 12 months old at the time of initial subsidy determination.
(4) Efforts to place the child in a non-subsidized placement must be documented in the child’s record. Documentation shall include at least one (1) of the following:
(a) List of other families considered;
(b) Letters to agencies specifically seeking a home for the child, or
(c) Registration of the child on the statewide adoption website.
(5) No child shall remain unnecessarily in foster care while the Department searches for a non-subsidized placement, if a family who can meet the special needs of the child is available, but requires a subsidy.
(6) The CBC or subcontractor agency adoption staff shall inform the caregiver that adoption subsidy, unlike foster care board rate payments, is not intended to cover the complete cost of the child’s care. The maintenance subsidy payment is intended to assist the adoptive parent in supporting the extra costs associated with adopting a child with special needs.
(7) Initial Maintenance Subsidy. The initial determination of the monthly maintenance subsidy shall be based on the needs of the child at the time of the negotiation and the projected future needs of the child based on the family and medical history of the child and birth family or, for adoptions finalized on or after July 1, 2007, as stated in Florida Statutes § 409.166 Negotiations for the initial maintenance subsidy shall begin at $417 monthly.
(8) A maintenance subsidy may be negotiated up to 100% of the statewide foster care board rate. A subsidy may exceed 100% of the statewide foster care board rate when an exception is granted by the Department’s regional managing director or designee and documented on the “Maintenance Adoption Subsidy Approval” form CF-FSP 5077, July 2016, incorporated by reference and available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-07485. Requests for exceptions must be in writing. In determining whether to grant an exception, the regional managing director or designee shall consider the medical, behavioral, and therapeutic needs of the child at the time of the negotiation, as well as the projected future needs of the child based on the family and medical history of the child and birth family. In no case shall the subsidy exceed the foster care maintenance payment for which the child is or would be eligible if the child had been in placed in a family foster home. Maintenance subsidy is not intended to cover services which can be obtained through family insurance, Medicaid, Children’s Medical Services, medical subsidy, or through special education plans provided by the public school district.
(9) The “Adoption Assistance Agreement,” incorporated in subsection (2) of this rule, must be signed and dated by all parties prior to the finalization of the adoption and uploaded into the Florida Safe Families Network (FSFN). The effective date of the agreement is the date the child was placed with the family as an adoptive placement and the Memorandum of Agreement to Adopt, CF-FSP 5072, incorporated by reference in paragraph 65C-16.002(2)(c), F.A.C., was signed by the potential adoptive caregiver and the CBC or subcontracted agency. If not completed on the same date, the effective date will be the latter of the two. Payments may not be made for any months in which there is no adoption assistance agreement in place.
(10) The family must be advised by the adoption case manager that it is their responsibility to notify the Department or CBC of any change in circumstances, including moving out of state, no later than 48 hours after the change.
(11) The adoption subsidy agreement remains in effect until:
(a) The child dies.
(b) The child reaches 18 years of age or is emancipated.
(c) The parents are no longer legally responsible for the support of the child, including the death of a parent when the adoption is by a single parent or both parents when the adoption is by a married couple, or the parental rights of the adoptive parents have been terminated.
(d) The parents are no longer providing any support to the child. Support includes emotional and/or financial support, even in situations when the child is no longer living in the home.
(12) Adoptive parents may request an increase in the maintenance subsidy after the initial subsidy agreement was approved due to increased needs related to conditions of the child that were identified as current or future needs of the child prior to the adoptive placement or the circumstances of the family have changed in order to meet the increased needs of the child.
(a) The negotiation of this increase shall be based on the family foster, therapeutic foster or medical foster home board rate at the time of the request. Requests for increases must be provided in writing by the adoptive parents and approval shall be based on the merit of each case.
(b) If the increase request is approved, retroactive payment will be made dating back to the date the family officially requested the increased subsidy in writing.
(c) If the increase request is denied, the designated Department staff shall send a denial letter with notification of the adoptive parents’ right to appeal the denial pursuant to chapter 120, F.S. If it is found that the increase was wrongfully denied, the effective date of the new subsidy will be the date the increase request was received. A new subsidy agreement must be signed by all parties with the new approved amount documented.
(13) No child will have his or her subsidy payment reduced based on application of this rule.
(14) Any child who has been determined eligible for adoption subsidy whose adoption has been dissolved by termination of parental rights or by the death of the adoptive parents will retain his or her original subsidy eligibility if subsequently placed for adoption.
(15) No change shall be made to a maintenance subsidy without concurrence of the adoptive parents except as provided by federal regulation or state law. The subsidy agreement is not transferable to another caregiver.
Rulemaking authorized by Florida Statutes § 409.166(8). Implements Florida Statutes § 409.166(4). History—New 2-14-84, Formerly 10M-8.20, Amended 5-20-91, 4-19-94, Formerly 10M-8.020, Amended 12-23-97, 8-19-03, 11-30-08, 7-7-16, 10-30-16, 12-18-16, 9-25-17, 2-5-18, 12-16-18.