Understanding Adoption Subsidies: An Analysis of AFCARS Data. Child Characteristics

01/01/2005

The median subsidy amount for children adopted in 2001 was $444 a month (Table 3-7); a 10 percent increase from the median of $404 provided in 1999. At the same time, 33,655 children were adopted in 1999 and 39,135 children were adopted in 2001, a 16 percent increase.

Table 3-7.
Monthly Adoption Subsidy Amount, Overall, FY 1999-2001
  Monthly Subsidy Amount
1999
($)
2000
($)
2001
($)
Subsidy Amount
25th Percentile 359 364 384
Median 404 425 444
75th Percentile 529 550 600
95th Percentile 945 991 1,066
N 33,655 38,366 39,135
Note:
  1. Includes only children currently receiving subsidy payments.

Source: AFCARS 1999-2001, adoption data.

Table 3-8 shows the relationship between child-related factors and subsidy amount received. As would be expected, adoption subsidies increase as children get older, presumably reflecting their greater need for services (also seen on Table A-7). Children less than 6 years old receive a median of $406 compared to $522 for children aged 13 to 17. Whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics had an identical median subsidy amount ($444), while children of other races received slightly higher subsidies ($469).

Table 3-8.
Adopted Child-Related Factors, by Subsidy Amount, FY 2001
  Adopted Children 25th Percentile
($)
Median
($)
75th Percentile
($)
95th Percentile
($)
Child's age at adoption
0 to 5 years 18,734 369 406 550 1,000
6 to 12 years 16,857 387 471 650 1,090
13 to 17 years 3,544 436 522 690 1,132
Race/ethnicity
White, non-Hispanic 15,569 365 444 610 1,090
African-American, non-Hispanic 13,688 380 444 626 1,064
Hispanic 6,214 405 444 521 1,008
Other 2,260 365 469 600 1,099
Preadoptive parent-child relationship
Foster parent 22,651 384 450 650 1,103
Stepparent 46 364 535 665 890
Other relative 9,371 393 441 535 877
Nonrelative 5,671 360 471 613 1,125
Wait time (from TPR to adoption)
< 6 months 7,906 364 420 562 1,029
6 to 12 months 10,519 384 441 591 1,024
12 to 18 months 8,002 393 444 600 1,078
> 18 months 12,168 400 475 650 1,090
Total 39,135 384 444 600 1,066
Notes:
  1. Includes only children currently receiving subsidy payments.
  2. Not all states report step-parent adoptions; therefore, these data are underreported.

Source: AFCARS 2001, adoption data.

Children in nonrelative foster homes received higher median subsidies compared to other preadoptive placements (excluding stepparent adoptions)   a monthly median of $471 vs. $450 for foster parents and $441 for other relatives.

Children who waited longer from TPR to adoption (more than 18 months) received a higher median subsidy compared to children who were adopted more quickly after TPR.

Table A-7 in the appendix shows that median monthly adoption subsidy amounts vary substantially among states. Overall, median subsidies ranged from a low of $174 and $241 (Puerto Rico and Alabama, respectively) to a high of $856 (Iowa) and $741 (Washington, DC). Among the nine largest states,(6) median subsidy amounts ranged from $300 in Florida up to $591 in Michigan.

The national data shows subsidy amounts tend to increase for older children (see bottom row on A-7). We examined the nine largest states6 to determine whether this pattern was consistent on a state-level basis. All of these large states, with the exception of one, showed a similar pattern. Texas was the exception, which reported the same median subsidy amount for each of the three age groups. These findings are consistent with state policies that tend to have higher basic subsidy rates for older children (U.S. House of Representatives, 2004). Nevertheless, results should be interpreted with caution due to the differences in how states structure their subsidy payments (i.e., what is included in basic rates vs. special supplemental payments).

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