Adoption Assistance Program
WHAT IS THE ADOPTION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) provides financial
assistance, including help with medical care, to families
who adopt children who would otherwise remain in long-term
WHO ARE THE CHILDREN WHO QUALIFY FOR AAP?
Children who have one or more of the following
characteristics which are a barrier to their adoption
without financial assistance include:
member of a sibling group to be adopted by one family;
ethnic background, race, color, language;
mental, physical, medical or emotional handicap;
age of three years or more;
adverse parental background (e.g., drug addiction, mental or
WHAT KIND OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE IS PROVIDED?
Medical assistance (Medi-Cal), and
A monthly cash benefit to help pay the added expense of
raising the child.
WHO DETERMINES IF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR AN ADOPTION WILL BE
The public adoption agency determines whether or not a child
is eligible for AAP benefits. The adoptive parents and the
public adoption agency negotiate a payment amount which the
county social services department pays. The adoptive
parent(s) are not subject to an income eligibility
requirement in order to apply for AAP. However, when
determining the amount of the AAP grant, the family's income
and the resources available in the community are considered.
The payment amount cannot exceed what it would have cost to
maintain the child in foster care.
In a cooperative placement, the family's and child's
agencies work together to assess the needs of the child,
determine the amount of assistance and the length of time
assistance will be provided.
WHEN DO AAP PAYMENTS BEGIN?
Adoption assistance payments may begin immediately after the
adoptive placement is made and adoption assistance
agreements have been signed.
WHAT IF THE CHILD HAS A DISABILITY, WHICH DOES NOT REQUIRE
ASSISTANCE NOW, BUT MAY REQUIRE ASSISTANCE IN THE FUTURE?
It is very important for an adoptive parent to complete and
sign a Deferred Payment Agreement with the agency for an
eligible child before a final decree of adoption is entered
ordered. If the disability presents problems that require
assistance after the adoption has been finalized, the
agreement will allow for financial assistance to help with
Remember, the Deferred Payment Agreement must be signed
prior to the finalization of the adoption in order to be
effective and must specify those conditions for which AAP
benefits may be paid.
CAN THE PAYMENT AGREEMENT BE REVISED IF THE CONDITION OF THE
CHILD OR THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE FAMILY CHANGE?
The initial AAP agreement must be signed before the
finalization of the adoption and each child's case is
reviewed at least every two years by the county agency which
granted AAP initially. The adoption assistance payment can
be adjusted at any time if the family's circumstances have
changed. However, any change in the amount or duration of
AAP benefits requires the agreement of the adopting family
and the county agency.
HOW LONG MAY A CHILD RECEIVE AAP?
Normally, AAP eligibility continues until the child reaches
the age of 18. Eligibility may continue until the child
reaches the age of 21, if the child has a mental or physical
handicap which warrants the continuation of assistance.
WILL ADOPTION ASSISTANCE CONTINUE IF THE CHILD MOVES TO ANOTHER
Federal laws require that eligibility for AAP benefits,
including cash grant and medical assistance, continue when
the family moves to another state. The original state in
which adoption assistance was received continues to make
adoption assistance payments. In many instances, the new
state of residence will provide medical assistance. If not,
the original state will continue to provide this coverage.
WHAT KIND OF PARENT(S) ADOPT THESE CHILDREN?
Adoption caseworkers seek mature adult(s) who have a stable
family life, regular income, good health and a willingness
to accept an adopted child as their own.
Adoptive parents should be flexible, patient and capable of
dealing with changes in their expectations and life styles.
Most importantly, adoptive parents should be able to value
their special child for what he or she can accomplish and to
appreciate the child's unique qualities.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS THE ADOPTION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM?
The Adoption Assistance Program provides advantages to both
children and adoptive parents. The program encourages the
adoption of children who otherwise might not have lifelong
families. Children are placed in families where they receive
support and love. This kind of environment allows the
children to develop a positive self-image and eventually
become productive members of our society. The children no
longer have to risk transfer from one foster home to
another, with no hope of a permanent home.
The AAP enables more prospective adoptive parents to pursue
adoption without the fear of being unable to meet the
additional expenses involved with raising a child. The
family can then concentrate on providing emotional support
and a healthy environment for the child.
The California's Waiting Children Photo Album includes
children who are available for adoption. The album may be
viewed at a licensed adoption agency in your area.