Overview of State Assistance for Adoption in New Jersey
If you are thinking about adoption in New Jersey, you’ll want to learn about the state’s adoption assistance program. This program offers financial assistance and other benefits to adoptive parents who are considering adopting a child with special needs from foster care. Eligible families may be able to receive up to $2,000 for nonrecurring expenses and up to $877 per month for the routine costs associated with raising a child.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for New Jersey’s Adoption Subsidy?
To be eligible for the adoption subsidy, prospective parents must consider adopting a child with special needs. New Jersey defines the following circumstances and characteristics as special needs for adoption purposes.
- A medical condition requiring frequent treatment or hospitalization
- A physical disability
- A substantial disfigurement
- A diagnosed mental health condition, including an emotional or behavioral problem, psychiatric disorder, or serious intellectual disability
- Part of a group of three or more siblings who are placed together
- Part of a group of two siblings in which one sibling meets other special needs criteria, and the siblings are placed together
- 10 years of age or older
- Member of an ethnic or minority demographic that does not have adoptive homes available
- Suffered abuse or neglect resulting in out-of-home placement by Child Protection & Permanency (CP&P)
Certain other circumstances or conditions may be approved for assistance based on approval by the CP&P director or designee. These include:
- Substantial risk of problems resulting from prenatal drug exposure
- Elevated probability of developing mental illness due to genetic predisposition
- Placement with a relative who cannot adopt the child without financial assistance
Other criteria may apply, so it’s wise to speak with a New Jersey adoption lawyer before deciding whether the adoption subsidy is right for your family.
What Type of Financial Assistance Is Available Through the Adoption Assistance Program in New Jersey?
The New Jersey adoption subsidy program offers financial assistance of varying amounts depending on the child’s needs. New Jersey adoption assistance typically falls under one of two categories: nonrecurring expenses and recurring expenses.
The program covers some or all the costs for nonrecurring adoption expenses, such as attorney fees and court costs. The reimbursement amount is a maximum of $2,000 per child, including up to $500 for legal fees per child.
These one-time expenses may be reimbursed up to two years after the adoption is finalized. If the adoption is not finalized, reimbursement may occur up to two years after it was disrupted.
Other payments are available to cover a portion of the day-to-day costs of raising an adoptive child. These are known as maintenance payments, and the exact amount a family can receive will depend on the age of the child as follows.
- Age 0-5: $738 per month
- Age 6-9: $818 per month
- Age 10-12: $845 per month
- Age 13+ $877 per month
Maintenance payments may begin at the time of adoption placement. This means that families can typically receive these adoption assistance payments in New Jersey before the adoption is finalized.
How Long Do Payments Last Under the Adoption Assistance Program in New Jersey?
Adoption assistance payments in New Jersey may continue until one of the following occurs.
- The child turns 18 years of age.
- The child completes high school.
The event that occurs last will determine when assistance payments will be discontinued. For instance, if a child turns 18 years of age before graduating high school, his or her parents will continue to receive adoption assistance payments until graduation occurs. If a child finishes high school before turning 18, the payments will continue until his or her 18th birthday.
Adoption assistance in New Jersey is complex, and this brief overview covers only the basics of this program. If you are thinking about adopting in New Jersey, it’s important that you fully understand what state assistance is available to help support your family.
To learn more about New Jersey’s adoption subsidy program and eligibility requirements, speak with an experienced New Jersey adoption lawyer at Cofsky & Zeidman. You can get in touch with us today by calling our Haddonfield office at (856) 429-5005 or our Woodbury office at (856) 845-2555.