Code of the District of Columbia

§ 4–301. Adoption subsidy payments.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (f) of this section, the Mayor may conclude arrangements with persons or institutions at such rates as may be agreed upon.

(b)(1) The Mayor may make adoption subsidy payments to an adoptive family (irrespective of the state of residence of the family), as needed, on behalf of a child with special needs, where such child would in all likelihood go without adoption except for the acceptance of the child as a member of the adoptive family, and where the adoptive family has the capability of providing the permanent family relationships needed by such child in all areas except financial, as determined by the Mayor. Subsidy payments may be made under this section only pursuant to a subsidy payment agreement entered into by the Mayor and the adoptive parents concerned prior to completion of the adoptive process, but subsidy payments may be made before such adoption becomes final.

(2) For the purposes of this subsection:

(A) The term “child with special needs” includes any child who is difficult to place in adoption because of age, race, or ethnic background, physical or mental condition, or membership in a sibling group which should be placed together. A child for whom an adoptive placement has not been made within 6 months after he is legally available for adoptive placement shall be considered a child with special needs within the meaning of this section.

(B) The term “adoptive family” includes single persons.

(c) Any public agency or licensed child-placing agency, having a child with special needs in foster care or institutional care, or any foster parent having such a child in his home may recommend to the Mayor a subsidy for the adoption of such child, and may include in the recommendation advice as to the appropriate level of payments and any other information likely to assist the Mayor in carrying out the provisions of this section. The Mayor shall make the determination as to whether or not an appropriate adoptive home exists for the child, but in so doing the Mayor shall refer to the recommendations of the referring agency. If the Mayor concludes that the child referred is a child with special needs within the meaning of this section, and that an appropriate adoptive home exists for the child, the Mayor is authorized to enter into a tentative adoption subsidy agreement with the prospective adoptive family, and upon entering into such an agreement, the Mayor may accept a transfer of relinquishment of parental rights from the referring agency pursuant to § 4-1406.

(d) If a child in the custody of the Mayor or a licensed child-placing agency has been in foster care or institutional care for at least 6 months after the child is considered legally available for adoptive placement, the Mayor or agency shall inform the family or institution providing care of the possibility of financial aid for adoption under this section. If the family caring for the prospective adoptee applies to the Mayor for adoption of the child, and if it appears to the Mayor after study that the family would be an appropriate adoptive family for the child but for the family’s economic inability to meet the child’s needs, the Mayor shall enter into a tentative agreement with the family concerning the amount and duration of a proposed subsidy in the event the child is placed for adoption with that family. Thereafter the Mayor may accept a transfer of relinquishment of parental rights from the referring agency in appropriate cases. The Mayor shall in all cases take all steps necessary to assist the family in completing the legal and procedural requirements necessary to effectuate the adoption, including payment for legal fees and court costs.

(e)(1) The amount and duration of adoption subsidy payments may vary according to the special needs of the child, and may include maintenance costs, medical, dental, and surgical expenses, psychiatric and psychological expenses, and other costs necessary for his care and well-being. A subsidy may be paid on a long-term basis to help a family whose income is limited and is likely to remain so; on a time-limited basis to help a family meet the cost of integrating a child into the family over a specified period of time; or on a special services basis to help a family meet a specific anticipated expense or expenses when no other resource appears to be available. Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, eligibility for payments shall continue until the child reaches 18 years of age.

(2) For adoptions that are finalized on or after May 7, 2010, eligibility for payments shall continue until the child reaches 21 years of age.

(f)(1) A child who was eligible for adoption assistance payments under this section during an initial adoption, which occurred on or after October 1, 1997, is eligible for the subsidy in a subsequent adoption if the initial adoption was disrupted because:

(A) The parental rights of the adoptive parents have been terminated or relinquished; or

(B) The adoptive parents have died.

(2) The Mayor is authorized to make payments under this section from appropriations for the care of children in foster homes and institutions, and to seek and accept funds from other sources including federal, private, and other public funding sources, to carry out the purposes of this section. The amount expended by the Mayor for any subsidy may not exceed the highest amount the Mayor would be authorized to spend in providing or securing support and special services for the child if a child were in the legal custody or guardianship of the Mayor.

(3) There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.

(g) No adoption subsidy payment shall be made on behalf of any child with respect to whom an adoption decree has been entered by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, pursuant to Chapter 3 of Title 16, prior to April 2, 1974.

(h) Once during each calendar year the Mayor shall review the need for continuing each family’s subsidy. At the time of such review and at other times during the year when changed conditions, including variations in medical opinions, prognosis, and costs are deemed by the Mayor to warrant such action, appropriate adjustments in payments shall be made based upon changes in the needs of the child. Any parent who is a party to a subsidy agreement may at any time in writing request, for reasons set forth in the request, a review of the amount of any payment or the level of continuing payments. Such review shall be begun not later than 30 days from the receipt of the request. Any adjustment may be made retroactive to the date the request was received by the Mayor. If the request is not acted on within 30 days after it has been received by the Mayor, or if the Mayor modifies or terminates an agreement without the concurrence of all parties, any party to the agreement shall be entitled to a hearing under the applicable provisions of subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2.

(i)(1) The Mayor shall keep such records as are necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of adoption subsidy as a means of encouraging and promoting the adoption of children with special needs. The Mayor shall make an annual progress report which shall be open to public inspection. The report shall include, but not be limited to:

(A) The number of children placed in adoptive homes under subsidy agreements during the year preceding the annual report and the major characteristics of the children placed; and

(B) The number of children currently in foster care with the Mayor for 6 months or more, and the legal status of those children.

(2) The Mayor shall disseminate information to prospective adoptive families as to the availability of adoptable children and of the existence of aid to families who qualify for a subsidy under this section.

(j) All rules and regulations adopted by the Mayor pursuant to §§ 4-116, 4-117, 4-301 and 4-302 shall be published in the District of Columbia Register as required by § 2-505.