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March 2005Vol. 6, No. 2Understanding Adoption Subsidies Using AFCARS Data

The relationship between adoption subsidies and adoption outcomes was the focus of a study recently released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). Using data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) for Fiscal Years 1999 to 2001, the authors examined how States used adoption subsidies to achieve goals of permanency and well-being for children. The study focused on patterns of subsidy receipt, Federal support for subsidies, and the relationship between subsidies and the number and timeliness of adoptions from foster care.

Analysis of data from all 50 States, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia showed both national patterns and variations among States. The authors highlight the following findings:

  • Nearly all children (88 percent) adopted from foster care received a subsidy.
  • The median monthly adoption subsidy was $444.
  • Among those newly adopted who received subsidies, 84 percent received their assistance through Title IV-E.
  • Age and special needs status influenced subsidy receipt and amount.
  • Preadoptive relationships and other characteristics of adoptive families influenced subsidies.
  • There was some support for associations between subsidies and adoption outcomes.

The complete report, Understanding Adoption Subsidies: An Analysis of AFCARS Data, which was prepared by RTI International under contract to ASPE, can be accessed from the ASPE website at