Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Services: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues. Summary Report. 5.2.4 Adoption Subsidies

11/01/2002

Nearly all adopted children receive subsidies, with subsidy amounts generally stable over time.

These analyses use data that record payments to adopted children (subsidies) or for services received by adopted children (vendor payments). Because adopted children in North Carolina receive a new client ID number after the adoption decree is final, these analyses are limited to post-finalization assistance, beginning in 1990. Almost all (94 percent) children with adoption assistance received cash payments, and close to two-thirds (61 percent) also received additional assistance in the form of payments to vendors for therapeutic or medical services or nonrecurring costs of adoption. Half of the children started receiving cash payments almost immediately after the final decree. Within 6 months of the decree, 96 percent had received their first cash assistance check. The average cash payment amount during this time period was $346 per month received for an average of 42 months. However, because most of these cases are still open, these averages may change over time since there are some increases in payments as children age. Very young children received average cash assistance payments equal to $315; the average payment for children between 6 and 12 years old was $364; for children older than 12, the average payment increased to $409.

Slightly over half (51 percent) of children had no change in their subsidy amounts over the course of their assistance period. For the remaining children the increases were not substantial. The average number of days between the first cash payment and the initial increase was almost 2 years (22 months); however, this varied by age and race of adopted child. Older children were less likely to receive subsidy increases, although this was in part because older children actually had less time in which they were eligible to receive assistance. Using survival analysis to control for this effect, we found the probability of having received an increase ranged from 20 percent of children during the first year of assistance, to 50 percent by 2.5 years. Children under 5 years of age were the most likely to have subsidy increases and to incur them more quickly.

Because many factors are related to the length of time before an increase occurs, survival analysis was used to analyze the likelihood that a subsidy increase will occur, while controlling for characteristics of adopted children and length of eligibility time. Race and age at initial payment are significantly related to the likelihood of a subsidy increase. Even though the model controls for the number of months of assistance, children who begin receiving adoption assistance before age five are much more likely to receive increased subsidy payments than older children. Other minority children are less likely to receive an increased subsidy than either white or black children.

Analysis of vendor payments indicated that half of the children with a vendor payment had the first payment within two months of the adoption decree, and three-quarters had first payment within six months of the decree. The average number of vendor payments per child was four, with amounts ranging up to $2,000. The analysis of these payments is complicated by the fact that children could receive these payments before and after the final decree, and so payments for one child could be recorded under different ID numbers. Thus, it is likely that these numbers actually underestimate the amount of vendor payments incurred by an individual child.

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