On Monday, May 11, 2020, the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (AAICAMA) and CWLA sent a joint letter to Elizabeth Darling, Associate Commissioner Administration on Children, Youth and Families and Jerry Milner, Commissioner, Children’s Bureau asking for guidance to states encouraging them to review assistance agreements that, unlike foster care maintenance payments, are negotiated directly with families based on the child’s needs. The letter signed by AAICAMA Director Sharon McCartney and CWLA President/CEO Christine James-Brown says in part,

“Federal law permits the benefits and payment rates of adoption and guardianship agreements to be adjusted periodically, depending upon changes in the needs of the child or the circumstances of the family.

As we all are, these families are facing new and unplanned challenges. These challenges include financial and psychological stressors that may disproportionately impact the families that traditionally adopt or assume permanent guardianship of children and youth from state care.”

Some states may not be clear on their ability to adjust rates since agreements are based on the individual circumstances and based on the child’s need and not the family’s income. The concern is whether a change in the family’s circumstances (say the loss of income) can be considered a change in the child’s needs. There is also some concern about whether an adjustment in assistance agreements can be temporarily adjusted during the pandemic and recession.

As the letter states:

“We know how committed you are and have always been in meeting the needs of families with children and youth in foster care. We hope you will provide this new guidance to encourage states to consider the needs of adoptive and guardianship families… In promotion of equal support of all children and youth served by title IV E, we ask for this guidance.”