November 2008Vol. 9, No. 9How Adoption Subsidies Help Children With Special Needs
Adoption subsidies have the potential to increase the number of foster children with special needs who achieve permanency. A new report from the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC), The Value of Adoption Subsidies: Helping Children Find Permanent Families, provides data on the children in foster care awaiting adoption who meet their State's definition of "special needs." Depending on the State, "special needs" may include membership in a sibling group, ethnic background, age, or medical condition or disability. It might entail the need for specialized health care, educational remediation, or therapy for emotional or behavioral problems. Subsidies can help adoptive parents provide the specialized services that these children need.
After providing an overview of the current system of federally and State-funded adoption subsidies and how children and families are qualified to receive subsidies, the report notes that the existence and amount of subsidies impact the number of children who are adopted from foster care. Statistics show that a higher percentage of children who received an adoption subsidy in a State was associated with a higher rate of adoption from foster care. Higher subsidy amounts also correlated with more adoptions. The report also cites survey data from adoptive parents indicating that the presence of a subsidy affected their decision to adopt and that many would not otherwise have been able to afford to support their adopted child.
Citing the many benefits of adoption for long-term health and well-being of children, the report makes specific policy recommendations to extend adoption subsidies to all children who have special needs.
The report was written by Madelyn Freundlich and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. It is available on the NACAC website: