Friday, August 29, 2014

Eligibility Part 6 Eligibility; More Practical Advice and Questions Title IV-E Adoption Assistance in Ohio

Next: Friday, August 29, 2014.  Barriers to obtaining adoption assistance when relatives, foster parents or prospective adoptive parents assume custody of the child instead of a public or private agency.  Hint: If you need or can benefit from adoption assistance, do not assume custody of the child.

5. OAC rule 5101:2-49-02 (A)(2) states that eligibility requirements for IV-E adoption assistance includes the following:  "The child has been matched with an adoptive parent(s) in accordance with rule 5101:2-48-16 of the Administrative Code.  Does this provision apply to independent adoptions in which the child's eligibility rests on meeting the disability requirements for SSI?

We believe that a matching process is an adoption issue, not an eligibility requirement for adoption assistance.  In its training session with county agencies, ODJFS stated the matching requirement does not apply to "an adoption in which the child is not under the responsibility of a public or private adoption agency."  In addition, we expect the state to honor the matching process practiced by private adoption agencies.

6. What are the criteria for extending adoption assistance beyond age 18 to age 21?

Considering the way the rule is currently written, adoptive parents should explore an extension of adoption assistance to age 21 if they feel the need is there.  As you will see below, there are numerous ways to meet the criteria for an extension.

After a child reaches the age of 17, the adoptive family should decide whether they want to apply to extend adoption assistance beyond age 18 to age 21.  The county agency will contact the family, but it may be close to the child's 18th birthday and may contain a notification that adoption assistance will be terminated.  Adoptive parents may appeal any notification to terminate adoption assistance at age 18 and if they do, the assistance will continue until the matter is resolved through a state administrative hearing or other method.

OAC rule 5101:2-49-04 actually contains a number of ways in which a child may qualify for an extension of adoption assistance to age 18.   They include the following:

a.      The Social Security Administration has determined the child meets the disability criteria for

        Supplemental security income (SSI)

        Social security disability benefits

        Social security benefits due to death or disability of biological or adoptive parent(s)

b.     The child participates in one of the following rehabilitation programs

        Vocational rehabilitation

        Services for the visually impaired

c.      The child is enrolled in secondary education and meets the eligibility criteria for child with disability receiving special education and related services from Ohio Department of Education

d.     The child is eligible for services through Ohio Department of Developmental disability (DODD) in Ohio or equivalent program in state of residence

The child is diagnosed by qualified professional to have a special need that is a mental or physical disability by a qualified professional in their area of expertise.

        Developmental Disability

        Developmental Delay

        Mental Illness

        Medical Condition  

The above criteria for mental or physical disability must be supported by a clear written statement that documenting the child’s mental or physical disability and supported by an assessment/evaluation conducted within the previous 12 months.