2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 48. Children's code.
48.975 Adoption assistance.

Universal Citation: WI Stat § 48.975 (2017)

48.975 Adoption assistance.

(1)Definition. In this section, “adoption assistance" means payments by the department to the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents of a child which are designed to assist in the cost of care of that child after an agreement under sub. (4) has been signed and the child has been placed for adoption with the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents.

(2)Applicability. The department may provide adoption assistance only for a child with special needs and only when the department has determined that such assistance is necessary to assure the child's adoption.

(3)Types. The department may provide adoption assistance for maintenance, medical care or nonrecurring adoption expenses, or for any combination of those types of adoption assistance, according to the following criteria:

(a) Maintenance.

1. Except as provided in subd. 3., for support of a child who was in foster care or subsidized guardianship care immediately prior to placement for adoption, the department shall determine the initial amount of adoption assistance for maintenance based on the circumstances of the adoptive family and the needs of the child. That amount may not exceed the amount of the child's foster care or subsidized guardianship care payment at the time that the agreement under sub. (4) (a) is signed.

2. Except as provided in subd. 3., for support of a child not in foster care or subsidized guardianship care immediately prior to placement for adoption, the department shall determine the initial amount of adoption assistance for maintenance based on the circumstances of the adoptive family and the needs of the child. That amount may not exceed the uniform foster care rate applicable to the child that is in effect at the time that the agreement under sub. (4) (a) is signed.

3. For support of a child who is defined under rules promulgated by the department under sub. (5) (b) as a child with special needs based solely on being at high risk of developing moderate or intensive difficulty-of-care problems, the initial amount of adoption assistance for maintenance shall be $0.

4. The amount of adoption assistance for maintenance may be changed under an amended agreement under sub. (4) (b) or (c). If an agreement is amended under sub. (4) (b) or (c), the amount of adoption assistance for maintenance shall be the amount specified in the amended agreement but may not exceed the uniform foster care rate that would be applicable to the child if the child were in foster care during the time for which the adoption assistance for maintenance is paid.

(b) Medical. The adoption assistance for medical care shall be sufficient to pay expenses due to a physical, mental or emotional condition of the child which is not covered by a health insurance policy insuring the child or the parent.

(c) Nonrecurring adoption expenses. Subject to any maximum amount provided by the department by rule promulgated under sub. (5), the adoption assistance for nonrecurring adoption expenses shall be sufficient to pay the reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, legal fees and other expenses that are directly related to the adoption of the child and that are not incurred in violation of any state or federal law.

(3m)Duration. The adoption assistance may be continued after the adoptee attains 18 years of age if any of the following applies:

(a) The adoptee is under 19 years of age, is a full-time student at a secondary school or its vocational or technical equivalent, and is reasonably expected to complete the program before reaching 19 years of age.

(b) The adoptee is under 21 years of age, is a full-time student at a secondary school or its vocational or technical equivalent, has a mental or physical disability that warrants the continuation of adoption assistance as determined by the department, is not eligible for social security disability insurance under 42 USC 401 to 433 or supplemental security income under 42 USC 1381 to 1385 based on disability, and otherwise lacks adequate resources to continue in secondary school or its vocational or technical equivalent.

(c) The adoptee is under 21 years of age, is a full-time student at a secondary school or its vocational or technical equivalent, an individualized education program under s. 115.787 is in effect for the adoptee, and the adoption assistance agreement for the adoptee became effective on or after the date on which the adoptee attained 16 years of age.

(4)Procedure.

(a) Except in extenuating circumstances, as defined by the department by rule promulgated under sub. (5) (a), a written agreement to provide adoption assistance shall be made prior to adoption. An agreement to provide adoption assistance may be made only for a child who, at the time of placement for adoption, is in the guardianship of the department or other agency authorized to place children for adoption, in the guardianship of an American Indian tribal agency in this state, or in a subsidized guardianship under s. 48.623.

(b) If an agreement to provide adoption assistance is in effect and if the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents of the child who is the subject of the agreement believe there has been a substantial change in circumstances, as defined by the department by rule promulgated under sub. (5) (c), the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents may request that the agreement be amended to increase the amount of adoption assistance for maintenance. If a request is received under this paragraph, the department shall do all of the following:

1. Determine whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances, as defined by the department by rule promulgated under sub. (5) (c) and whether there has been a substantiated report of abuse or neglect of the child by the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents.

2. If there has been a substantial change in circumstances and if there has been no substantiated report of abuse or neglect of the child by the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents, offer to increase the amount of adoption assistance for maintenance based on criteria established by the department by rule promulgated under sub. (5) (d).

3. If an increased amount of adoption assistance for maintenance is agreed to by the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents, amend the agreement in writing to specify the increased amount of adoption assistance for maintenance.

(bm) Annually, the department shall review an agreement that has been amended under par. (b) to determine whether the substantial change in circumstances that was the basis for amending the agreement continues to exist. If that substantial change in circumstances continues to exist, the agreement, as amended, shall remain in effect. If that substantial change in circumstances no longer exists, the department shall offer to decrease the amount of adoption assistance for maintenance based on criteria established by the department under sub. (5) (dm). If the decreased amount of adoption assistance for maintenance is agreed to by the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents, the department shall amend the agreement in writing to specify the decreased amount of adoption assistance for maintenance. If the decreased amount of adoption assistance for maintenance is not agreed to by the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents, the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents may appeal the decision of the department regarding the decrease under the procedure established by the department under sub. (5) (dm).

(c) The department may propose to the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents that an agreement to provide adoption assistance be amended to adjust the amount of adoption assistance for maintenance. If an adjustment in the amount of adoption assistance for maintenance is agreed to by the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents, the agreement shall be amended in writing to specify the adjusted amount of adoption assistance for maintenance.

(d) An agreement to provide adoption assistance may be amended more than once under par. (b) or (c).

(4m)Recovery of incorrect payments. The department may recover an overpayment of adoption assistance from an adoptive parent who continues to receive adoption assistance for maintenance by reducing the amount of the adoptive parent's monthly payment of adoption assistance for maintenance. The department may by rule specify other methods for recovering overpayments of adoption assistance.

(5)Rules. The department shall promulgate rules necessary to implement this section, which shall include all of the following:

(a) A rule defining the extenuating circumstances under which an initial agreement to provide adoption assistance under sub. (4) (a) may be made after adoption. This definition shall include all circumstances under which federal statutes, regulations or guidelines provide that federal matching funds for adoption assistance are available to the state if an initial agreement is made after adoption, but may not include circumstances under which federal statutes, regulations or guidelines provide that federal matching funds for adoption assistance are not available if an initial agreement is made after adoption.

(b) A rule defining a child with special needs, which shall include a child who the department determines has, at the time of placement for adoption, moderate or intensive difficulty-of-care problems, as defined by the department, or who the department determines is, at the time of placement for adoption, at high risk of developing those problems.

(c) A rule defining the substantial change in circumstances under which adoptive or proposed adoptive parents may request that an agreement made under sub. (4) be amended to increase the amount of adoption assistance for maintenance. The definition shall include all of the following:

1. Situations in which a child who was defined as a child with special needs based solely on being at high risk of developing moderate or intensive difficulty-of-care problems has developed those problems.

2. Situations in which a child's difficulty-of-care problems have increased from the moderate level to the intensive level as set forth in the department's schedule of difficulty-of-care levels promulgated by rule.

(d) Rules establishing requirements for submitting a request under sub. (4) (b), criteria for determining the amount of the increase in adoption assistance for maintenance that the department shall offer if there has been a substantial change in circumstances and if there has been no substantiated report of abuse or neglect of the child by the adoptive or proposed adoptive parents, and the procedure to appeal the decision of the department regarding the request.

(dm) Rules establishing the criteria for determining the amount of the decrease in adoption assistance for maintenance that the department shall offer under sub. (4) (bm) if a substantial change in circumstances no longer exists and the procedure to appeal the decision of the department regarding the decrease. The criteria shall provide that the amount of the decrease offered by the department under sub. (4) (bm) may not result in an amount of adoption assistance for maintenance that is less than the initial amount of adoption assistance for maintenance provided for the child under sub. (3) (a) 1., 2. or 3.

(e) A rule regarding when a child must be photolisted with the adoption information exchange under s. 48.55 in order to be eligible for adoption assistance. The rule may not require photolisting under any circumstances in which photolisting is not required by federal statutes, regulations or guidelines as a prerequisite for the state to receive federal matching funds for adoption assistance.

(f) Rules governing the provision of adoption assistance for the care of a child after the child attains 18 years of age.

History: 1977 c. 418; 1985 a. 308; 1989 a. 31; 1993 a. 16, 446; 1997 a. 308; 2005 a. 25; 2009 a. 28; 2011 a. 32; 2013 a. 20; 2015 a. 55.

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