You may be eligible for a variety of South Carolina adoption assistance programs if you choose to adopt a special needs child currently in foster care and available for adoptive placement. The South Carolina Department of Social Services oversees all of these programs and determines which adoptive children and families qualify for the various types of assistance on a case-by-case basis.
Eligible children must meet one or more of the following special needs criteria:
- African American or blended racial heritage age 6 or older
- Caucasian age 10 or older
- Member of a sibling group, one of whom is a special needs child
- Has a physical, mental or emotional disability
- At risk of developing a physical, mental or emotional disability prior to adoption
Additional criteria exist for African American, Caucasian and blended racial heritage children who are members of sibling groups.
Adoption assistance agreement
To receive your adoption assistance payments and/or services, you and the Department of Social Services must sign an adoption assistance agreement before the adoption becomes finalized. Depending on the age of the child you adopt, you may receive up to $535 per month for your child's basic maintenance. These payments may start as soon as your child is placed in your home. In addition, you may receive up to $1,500 in reimbursement for the amount you paid for the reasonable and necessary costs related to the adoption of your special needs child, including the following:
- Adoption fees
- Legal fees
- Court costs
- Mileage and lodging to visit your prospective adoptive child prior to his or her placement in your home
Other available benefits
Should your special needs adoptive child have a physical, mental or psychological disability, (s)he and you may qualify for such things as Supplemental Benefits for Medical Assistance; medical, dental and mental health services; educational services; and respite care services. You will need to coordinate these services with your adoption assistance worker.
Adopting any child is a very loving thing to do. Adopting a special needs child requires even more love, dedication and commitment on your part. The various adoption assistance programs help you meet your child's needs.