Adoption and Guardianship Assistance

Idaho offers adoption and guardianship assistance programs for eligible children with special needs.  Most children in foster care are considered to have special needs as are most children who are approved for social security disability benefits. Adoption and guardianship assistance can include reimbursement of up to $2,000 in adoption-related costs, a monthly subsidy for the ongoing care of the child and a Medicaid card to assist with medical expenses until the child is 18 years old. The program is not available for international or step-parent adoptions. The agreements must be put in place before the finalization of the child's adoption or guardianship. 

Financial considerations with adoption

Financial assistance available for adoption

Financial assistance for adoption may be available through one or more of the following sources:

Adoption assistance nonrecurring adoption expenses
Families adopting children with special needs may be eligible for reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses up to $2,000 per child. Certain eligibility criteria must be met, and an adoption assistance nonrecurring expenses reimbursement agreement must be negotiated with the Department of Health and Welfare and signed by all parties prior to finalization of the adoption.

Nonrecurring costs are defined as one-time expenses directly related to the adoption. They may include legal or court fees, transportation expenses related to placement of the child, home study fees, and certain other costs. Original expense receipts are required. Reimbursement payments are made directly to the family. Costs related to the termination of parental rights or reimbursed from other sources such as employer benefits or insurance are not eligible for reimbursement.

Adoption tax credit
You may be able to take a tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child, including a child with special needs. The adoption credit is an amount subtracted from your tax liability.  Learn more through the IRS website.

Employer benefits
A number of employers offer adoption benefits. Contact your human resources department to inquire about the availability of adoption benefits.

Military benefits
The military provides active-duty personnel a reimbursement for most one-time adoption costs. The National Military Family Association provides more information.

Loans and grants
Loans or grants are available through a variety of organizations such as adoption agencies, foundations and banks.

Costs associated with adoption


Adoption providers set their own fees, which vary based on the type of adoption. Nationally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports adoption costs of:

  • $0 - $2,500 for foster care adoption
  • $5,000 - $40,000+ for private agency adoptions
  • $8,000 - $40,000+ for independent adoptions
  • $15,000 - $30,000+ for international adoptions

Home study, legal and placement supervision fees contribute to the costs of adoption. 

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has no fees for the application or home study process for families who are becoming licensed and/or approved for both foster and adoptive care for children placed by Child and Family Services (CFS). If a prospective parent wishes to be considered for adoption only, or chooses to use their completed home study to be considered for placement of a child not in the custody of CFS, the prospective family will be required to pay an application fee of $50 ($25 for a single applicant), a home study fee of $450 and a $55 fee for processing their background check. No fees are charged for the supervision of the adoptive placement, however, families do need the services of an attorney to finalize the adoption.

Private adoption nonrecurring cost reimbursement
Idaho offers an adoption assistance program for children who have special needs but are not eligible for the full adoption assistance program. This program includes reimbursement of up to $2,000 in adoption-related costs. More details and eligibility requirements can be found below. 
Private adoption nonrecurring cost reimbursement application
This application is submitted to Department of Health and Welfare, Division of Family and Community Services, to determine eligibility for reimbursement. It is not an agreement or contract. All requested documentation must be submitted to determine eligibility. If the child is determined eligible for participation, an agreement must be signed by all parties prior to the finalization of the adoption to be valid.