What are Adoption & Guardianship Subsidies?

Subsidies are provided to families who need assistance in order to make a permanent commitment to a child who is considered to be a hard-to-place child with special needs. The subsidy can assist adoptive parents and guardians in meeting the special needs of the child which they may otherwise not be able to meet on their own. Most subsidies provide a monthly monetary payment, Medicaid benefits, and one-time reimbursement of expenses related to the finalization of the adoption or guardianship.


Prospective adoptive parents and guardians must be evaluated through an adoptive home study or a guardianship study. OCS will review the study and the other eligibility criteria to determine eligibility for the adoption or guardianship subsidy. Other eligibility criteria includes:

  • a determination that the child is a hard-to-place child. This is defined by AS 25.23.240 to mean: “A minor who is not likely to be adopted or to obtain a guardian by reason of physical or mental disability, emotional disturbance, recognized high risk of physical or mental disease, age, membership in a sibling group, racial or ethnic factors, or any combination of these conditions.” AND
  • a court determination must be made that the “child cannot or should not be returned to the parental home”  AND
  • a reasonable but unsuccessful effort has been made to place the child without a subsidy”.

Subsidy Negotiation and Agreements

Subsidy agreements are developed jointly with the prospective adoptive parents or guardians and OCS through a negotiation process, and must be based on the individual special needs of the child and the specific family circumstances. The subsidy must be approved before an adoption or a guardianship is finalized. Once in place, the subsidy is a binding contract that ends when the child turns 18. OCS cannot modify the subsidy agreement unless the family agrees or if the parent or guardian is no longer legally responsible for the child or a determination has been made that the parent or guardian is no longer providing support to the child. 

Monthly Monetary Payment

The monthly payment amount is agreed upon by OCS and the prospective adoptive parents or guardians in advance of the adoption or guardianship finalization. The amount of the subsidy cannot exceed 90% of the existing amount for foster care. Once the subsidy is in place, the family can renegotiate the subsidy if there are changes in the child’s special needs or the family’s circumstances, and the existing subsidy no longer meets the child’s special needs. 

Medicaid Benefits

The subsidy also includes automatic Medicaid health coverage except in the case of a State Guardianship subsidy. If the subsidy does not include Medicaid, the family can still apply for Medicaid on behalf of the child through the Division of Public Assistance, once the guardianship is finalized. If the adoptive parent or guardian leaves the state, they must inform the Subsidy unit in order to have subsidy Medicaid opened in their new state of residence. Alaska Medicaid and Medicaid of another state cannot be open at the same time.

Nonrecurring Reimbursement Expenses for Finalization

The subsidy includes a special one-time reimbursement for "nonrecurring" adoption and guardianship related expenses, such as attorney fees. Nonrecurring expenses are paid only after the adoption or guardianship is finalized and the reimbursement limit is $2,000. 

Questions and Contact

To report a change in address or the child’s living situation, to request a change to the subsidy, or for general questions regarding the adoption and guardianship subsidy program, please call the OCS Adoption Unit at (907) 465-3209.