Adoption Assistance


To provide Federal Financial Participation (FFP) to States, Indian Tribes, Tribal organizations and Tribal consortia (Tribes) in adoption subsidy costs for the adoption of children with special needs who cannot be reunited with their families and who meet certain eligibility tests. This assistance is intended to prevent inappropriately long stays in foster care and to promote the healthy development of children through increased safety, permanency and well-being.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Office: Administration for Children and Families
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
Program Accomplishments
Fiscal Year 2014: 52 States (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) and 1 Tribe received grant awards. Fiscal Year 2015: It is anticipated that a total of 52 States (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) and 2 Tribes will receive grant awards. Fiscal Year 2016: It is anticipated that a total of 52 States (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) and 2 Tribes will receive grant awards.
Social Security Act, Title IV-E, Section 470 et seq; as amended.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
Funds are available to States (including the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa) and to Tribes with approved title IV-E plans.
Beneficiary Eligibility
Eligible beneficiaries include certain children who are legally freed for adoption where an adoption assistance agreement has been entered into prior to the finalization of an adoption. These children must: (1) have been determined by the State or Tribe to be special needs, e.g., a special factor or condition which makes it reasonable to conclude that they cannot be adopted without adoption assistance; a State or Tribe determination that the child cannot or should not be returned home; and a reasonable effort has been made to place the child without providing financial or medical assistance and (2) meet one of the relevant statutory categorical eligibility criteria. These criteria differ during the phase-in period (federal fiscal years (FFYs) 2010 through 2017) based on the FFY in which the adoption assistance agreement was entered into and the child's circumstances at that time. See section 473 of the Act for additional details on program eligibility requirements. FFP is available from the time of placement for adoption in accordance with State, local or Tribal law or final adoption decree to age 18 (21 if the State/Tribe finds that a disability means aid should continue or where provided for in an adoption assistance agreement that was entered for a child that had attained at least 16 years of age before the agreement became effective) as long as the parent supports the child. No child adopted prior to the approval of the State or Tribal title IV-E plan is eligible for FFP. No means test applies to adopting parents, but the amount of subsidy is agreed to by agency and parents and may be readjusted by joint agreement.
The State or Tribe must submit an application for approval by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Costs will be determined in accordance with 45 CFR Part 75. 2 CFR 200, Subpart E - Cost Principles applies to this program.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Consultation to States and Tribes is available from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Regional Offices. The standard application forms as furnished by HHS must be used for this program. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
Application Procedure
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. Applications are made in the form of a title IV-E Plan, prepared in the format provided by the ACF Children's Bureau (CB). Title IV-E plans and amendments are submitted to the ACF Regional Child Welfare Program Manager for approval.
Award Procedure
Quarterly awards are made on the basis of estimated expenditures, which are later revised to include only actual allowable claimed expenditures. Next quarter estimates are due on July 30, October 30, January 30, and April 30 each year. Final decisions and awards are made by the Headquarters Office. Letter-of-credit is issued by the HHS Payment Management System (PMS).
Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
HHS will approve/disapprove applications (title IV-E plans or amendments to them) within 45 days of receipt by HHS.
Appeals are processed in accordance with HHS regulations in 45 CFR Part 16.
Awards remain effective without plan renewal but title IV-E plan may be amended as necessary.
How are proposals selected?
Not Applicable.
How may assistance be used?
All parents adopting special needs children are eligible for the nonrecurring cost of adoption up to $2,00. Adoption assistance payments may be used only in support of the adoption of children who meet the definition of special needs and satisfy categorical eligibility criteria as specified in the statute. A State or and Tribe may receive Federal Financial Participation (FFP) only if its title IV-E plan has been approved by the Secretary. Funding is also available for administrative and training costs necessary to administer the program.

The program was amended through Public Law 113-183 effective October 1, 2014 to require title IV-E agencies to calculate and report annually the savings from the use of revised categorical eligibility requirements. These savings must be calculated and then represent additional non-federal funding to be expended on title IV-B and title IV-E programs as specified in section 473(a)(8) of the Social Security Act (the Act).
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Reports as required by the Secretary:. Cash reports are not applicable. Progress reports are not applicable. A quarterly report of estimates and expenditures and children assisted (form CB-496) is required 30 days after the end of the quarter. Performance monitoring is not applicable.
In accordance with the provisions of 2 CFR 200, Subpart F - Audit Requirements, non-Federal entities that expend financial assistance of $750,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Non-Federal entities that expend less than $750,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in 2 CFR 200.503. Audits are conducted in accordance with the requirements in 45 CFR 75.
States and Tribes must maintain all financial and programmatic records necessary for the proper and efficient operation of the program, including records of applications, determinations of eligibility, the utilization of awarded grants and other funds for the provision of financial assistance and allocated indirect and direct administrative and training costs in accordance with requirements in HHS regulations at 45 CFR 75 and written guidance from ACF.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory Formula: Funding is provided on an open-ended basis in accordance with sec.474(a) of the Social Security Act.

Formula Grant Funding Level:
FFP for adoption assistance is equal to the applicable Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rate as as defined in section 1905(b) (sec. 479B(d) for Tribes) of the Social Security Act (i.e., from 50% to 83%, depending on the State or Tribe and the fiscal year) and as was temporarily enhanced (from FY 2009 through the 3rd quarter of FY 2011 through section 5001 of Public Law 111-5, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) for the total expended for adoption assistance payments, 75% of training costs, and 50% of other administrative costs. Short term training provided to specified professional partners was subject to a special FFP rate that varied by fiscal year from FY 2009 through FY 2012, but which was set at 75% for FY 2013 and thereafter.
Matching Requirements: The non-Federal Share of program costs (difference between total cost and FFP) in each funding category constitutes the required match to be met by the title IV-E agency. Matching funds from State agencies must be appropriated monies raised from non-Federal revenue sources. Matching funds from Tribal agencies must also be appropriated monies, but may at the option of the Tribe include Federal funds specifically authorized by Federal statutes to be used as match for other Federal programs and, in accordance with 45 CFR 1356.68 for administration and training costs only, in-kind expenditures (or contributions) from allowable third party sources.
This program does not have MOE requirements.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Federal financial participation is available to a State or Tribe operating under an approved title IV-E plan. See the following for information on how assistance is awarded/released: Quarterly, through a letter of credit.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
See Regional Agency Offices. Contact the Regional Administrator, ACF, HHS in the appropriate Regional Office. (See Appendix IV of the Catalog for a list of addresses of the Regional Offices.).
Headquarters Office
Eileen West 1250 Maryland Ave, SW; 8th Floor, Washington, District of Columbia 20024 Email: Phone: 202-205-8438
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
75-1545-0-1-609 - ARRA grants: 75-1546-0-1-609.
(Formula Grants) FY 14 $2,449,852,669; FY 15 est $2,510,000,000; and FY 16 est $2,562,000,000
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
FY 2014: $473,493 to $455,389,089, with an average of $46,315,056.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
45 CFR 1355-1356.
Examples of Funded Projects
Not Applicable.


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