Understanding Adoption Subsidies: An Analysis of AFCARS Data. Source of Subsidies


Table 3-6 shows that nearly all children adopted in FY 2001 received subsidy assistance (88.1 percent). The proportion of children less than 6 years old who received subsidies was slightly lower compared to the two older age groups (85.7 percent vs. 90.5 percent and 90 percent, respectively). The largest group of children were those receiving subsidies with federal matching funds (74.3 percent); 13.8 percent of children received state only-funded and 11.9 percent received no subsidy. Thus, 84 percent of children who received subsidies used Federal matching funds. As expected, the proportion of children in each age group receiving subsidies is similar to the proportion classified with special needs (shown in Table 3-4).

Table 3-6.
Proportion of Adopted Children Who Received Subsidy Assistance by Age, Overall, FY 2001
  Age at Adoption Total
0 to 5 6 to 12 13 to 17
N % N % N % N %
Source of subsidy  
Federal + State 17,518 71.9 16,537 76.9 3,508 74.6 37,563 74.3
State 3,343 13.7 2,923 13.6 724 15.4 6,990 13.8
None 3,489 14.3 2,054 9.5 469 10.0 6,012 11.9
Total 24,350 99.9 21,514 100.0 4,701 100.0 50,565 100.0
Subsidy payments  
Receiving payments 20,596 84.6 19,345 89.9 4,214 89.6 44,155 87.3
Deferred payments 265 1.1 115 0.5 18 0.4 398 0.8
No subsidy 3,489 14.3 2,054 9.5 469 10.0 6,012 11.9
Total 24,350 100.0 21,514 99.9 4,701 100.0 50,565 100.0
  1. Children reported to receive a $0 or $1 subsidy are considered to have a deferred subsidy and are counted as receiving subsidy assistance. This number is likely underreported due to differences in how states report deferred agreements.

Source: AFCARS 2001, adoption data.

Families with deferred subsidy agreements have the option of negotiating payments in the future, should the child's needs or family's circumstances warrant a monetary subsidy. AFCARS data indicate that nationally, only 398 children have a deferred payment agreement according to our definition for these analyses (children identified as receiving a subsidy, with the subsidy amount equal to $0 or $1). Because AFCARS does not include a field to explicitly indicate deferred status, it is likely that this number represents an undercount of the actual number of cases with no subsidies may include children with deferred agreements. Table A-3 in the appendix shows that only four states reported that at least 5 percent of their children had deferred agreements, perhaps another indication that states differ in how or whether they report deferred agreements in ACFARS. Only one of these was a large state (Washington with 5.7 percent).

Table A-4 presents the proportion of adopted children receiving federal matching funds, state subsidies only, or no subsidies for each state. The percentage of subsidies with federal matching funds are presented in the last column. A wide range of proportions of children with subsidies was observed among states. At one end of the spectrum, Puerto Rico and Connecticut reported only 13.2 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively, of their children received any subsidies. At the other end, South Carolina reported that all of their adopted children receive subsidies; and 16 states reported that at least 95 percent of adopted children received subsidies.

The percent of subsidies that were matched with federal funds varied widely among states as well. Nine states reported less than 70 percent of subsidies provided were federally funded; these were all small states with fewer than 1,000 children receiving subsidies. Six states reported 100 percent of their subsidies were federally funded; five of these were smaller states.

Eight of the 10 largest states reported at least 90 percent of their children had subsidies; however, two large states reported rates of 64.2 percent and 72.6 percent (Florida and Texas, respectively). Among the 10 largest states, two (New York and Ohio) reported that at least 90 percent of their caseload receive subsidies with federal matching funds; Florida and Texas reported the lowest proportion of children receiving federal subsidies (56.6 percent and 55.6 percent, respectively).

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