Last week, HHS released data on the Adoption-Kinship Incentives awards for FY 2018 (based on FY 2017 data) and the total awarded was $64 million. The $64 million is the largest awards ever provided by the fund since it was created as part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). The second biggest was last year’s award at $55 million and the second year awards in 1999 at $51 million were the third largest. These last two yearly awards combine both an adoption incentive as well as a kinship-guardianship award but the 1999 figure was solely based on adoptions.

The awards this year should be fully funded. There is only $25 million left in FY 2018 funds but if Congress and the President approve the current FY 2019 appropriations (see above) HHS will be able to take the additional $39 million from the new appropriations to fully fund the award and still leave $36 million towards next year’s awards. Due to extensive advocacy by Voice for Adoption and by CWLA, Congress dramatically increased appropriations for the fund earlier this year from the usual $39 million to $75 million. That made up the previous year’s shortfall. That advocacy continued and has resulted in an additional $75 million in FY 2019.

The states can take up to 36 months to spend the funding because it is awarded at the very end of the fiscal year which would make it impossible to get out the door within a single fiscal year. The largest awards went to California at $8 million, Arizona at $6.5 million, Oklahoma $5.8 million, Texas at $4.5 million, and Indiana at $4 million. Only Washington State, Washington DC and Puerto Rico received no incentive award. The Awards are based on rates of adoptions and formal kinship placements (not TANF child-only placements) and not based on specific numbers as was the case until 2014. The adoption rates are divided between pre-adolescent (9-12 year olds), adolescents and overall adoptions from foster care. The awards are intended to be spent on child welfare services and are to supplement current state spending. For the adoption community it offers a potential source of funding for post-adoption services.