Adoption / Guardianship Subsidy

Adoption / Guardianship Subsidy

To encourage permanency for children, the Children’s Division administers a program known as Adoption / Guardianship Subsidy. This is a federally funded program that was implemented to help foster children who were deemed at-risk or hard to place such as siblings groups, older children, children with special needs, etc. It is a contract between the prospective adoptive parent / legal guardian and the state wherein the state offers to perform certain tasks such as maintaining the child on Medicaid, covering certain medical and/or mental health needs for the child, and paying for the legal fees associated with the adoption or guardianship.

The contract, once it has been approved will have a start date. Depending upon which county the adoption is being filed in, the paperwork can either be filed immediately but more often only after the start date. The reason for the difference is the interpretation a specific case worker has about subsidy start dates. Your attorney will need to know how that is handled in your particular county. Regardless of the filing date, in order to not lose the benefits of the subsidy it is imperative that the adoption or guardianship not be completed before the start date.

It is also important to talk to your attorney about how legal fees will be handled. Legal fees include your attorney’s fees, filing fees, service (personal and/or publication) fees, and Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) fees. If you choose an attorney to handle your subsidized case it is important to choose an attorney who understands the subsidy process.  There are limitations on the amount of fees that may be charged and on the hourly rate an attorney may charge. For adoptions the cap is $1,500.00 per child and $2,000.00 per child for guardianship cases.

In the past, legal fees included only filing fees, service fees, and the prospective adoptive attorney’s fees with the Guardian ad Litem fees being paid out separately.  However, new changes to Children’s Division policy sets out that all fees and costs are now included in the “Legal Fees” portion of the subsidy.  This is important for your attorney to know because how a Guardian ad Litem charges varies from county to county and person to person (although i some counties the Guardian ad Litem fee is included in the filing fee).  A Guardian ad Litem in one county may charge $150.00 and in another county $600.00 or more even if the case is not contested.  This means that if your attorney is not careful about how he or she charges then any out of pocket expenses paid by you may not get reimbursed.  It is also importan that your attorney understand how to apply for and obtain reimbursement of any fees paid out of pocket.

For more information go to: Missouri Subsidy Program