Support for parents who adopt from foster care
Subsidies, services, and training are available to help parents and children throughout the adoption process
Families who have adopted children from foster care often tell us that one key to success is accessing financial and medical assistance and services that support parents, children, and youth. We have compiled listings of many resources below. You can also find state-specific information about post-adoption services and a list of training resources on the website of the Child Welfare Information Gateway and in the state information pages of our website.
- Obtaining financial assistance
- Meeting medical and mental health needs
- Accessing educational assistance
- Addressing emotional needs
- Finding respite care and adoption support groups
The federal adoption tax credit, state adoption tax credits where available, and adoption subsidies minimize the cost of adoption from foster care.
Adoption tax credits
Most children in foster care, and all children photolisted on AdoptUSKids, are eligible for the federal adoption tax credit.
This credit allows adoptive parents of children in foster care to claim adoption expenses from their federal taxes—such as necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses (including meals and lodging while away from home)—or receive a full credit (which varies by year) without itemizing when adopting a child who qualifies as having “special needs.”
Please note that the adoption tax credit is not a refundable credit. Taxpayers can only receive the credit if they have federal income tax liability. Find out more:
- Information on the North American Council on Adoptable Children website
- Information and required forms for claiming the credit on the website of the US Internal Revenue Service
Many states also offer tax credits for adoptive families.
Adoption subsidies and financial assistance
States provide varying levels of financial assistance when adopting a child from foster care. Find out more about financial assistance that might be available to you by making use of Child Welfare Information Gateway resources below:
- Searchable database of adoption assistance by state
- Information on grants, loans, and tax credits for adoption
States provide varying levels of assistance to adoptive parents to help cover the costs for both medical and mental health services for a child adopted through foster care. Child Welfare Information Gateway provides resources to help parents understand and obtain mental health services and locate health services and free or low-cost health insurance.
You can also find the following state-specific information about accessing medical and mental health services on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- Mental health services
- Financial assistance available to meet medical needs
- Financial assistance available to meet therapeutic needs
Professionals will find information about developing family support programs in our guide, Support Matters: Lessons from the Field on Services for Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship Care Families.
There is a wealth of resources available to adoptive parents to help you meet the educational needs of your child, particularly for sending them to college.
Child Welfare Information Gateway has a great list of educational assistance programs and a searchable database of adoption assistance and medical assistance by state.
Meeting many of the day-to-day emotional needs of a child you have adopted will be similar to meeting the needs of any child by providing unconditional reassurance, love, and support. However, there are additional things you will need to prepare yourself for to help a child you’ve adopted work through past trauma and loss.
Child Welfare Information Gateway has a great list of resources for adoptive parents working to understand and address children’s emotional needs.
- Helping adopted children cope with grief and loss
- General information on parenting after adoption
- Resources for adoptive families
Respite care is the short-term care of a child in order to give the regular caregiver a break. Search for respite care where you live using the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center’s national respite locator service.
If you can’t find a respite care opportunity where you live, learn more about how you can partner with public agencies to develop one by reading our publications:
- Creating and Sustaining Effective Respite Services: Lessons from the Field (1 MB PDF)/en Español (1 MB PDF): This guide is intended to help states, tribes, and parent support organizations understand the value of respite care in achieving improved outcomes for parents and youth, and build their capacity to sustain such programs after time-limited grants have ended.
- Taking a Break: Creating Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Respite In your Community (2 MB PDF)/en Español (1.4 MB PDF): This publication is a step-by-step manual for developing a respite program, including sample forms that groups can use in the day-to-day operation of their programs.
Parent support groups provide the opportunity to network, share, and learn from other adoptive parents who are experiencing or have experienced the same things as you. Use Child Welfare Information Gateway’s National Foster Care and Adoption Directory to search for parent support groups near you. You can also connect and share with other adoptive parents and prospective parents through our Facebook page.
People with disabilities who are interested in fostering and adopting can find information on our resource page for people with disabilities.
Things to do next:
- Talk with one of our foster care and adoption specialists about support available to families who adopt. Call 888-200-4005. They are ready to answer your questions and connect you with your local agency.
- Read stories of families who adopted from foster care.
- Subscribe to receive our monthly newsletter providing information and resources to foster and adoptive families.
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