Organization

Georgia Foster parent Bill of Rights

 House Bill 1580 
(AS PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE)


 A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT
To amend Chapter 5 of Title 49 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to programs and protection for children and youth, so as to enact the “Foster Parents Bill of Rights”; to provide for a short title; to set out a list of rights for foster parents; to provide that such rights be taken into consideration in policies of the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Resources; to provide for the establishment of grievance procedures for violation of the bill of rights; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:

SECTION 1.
Chapter 5 of Title 49 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to programs and protection for children and youth, is amended by adding a new article to read as follows:

ARTICLE 14

49-5-280.
This article shall be known and may be cited as the ‘Foster Parents Bill of Rights.’

49-5-281.
(a) The General Assembly finds that foster parents who are volunteers providing care for children who are in the custody of the Department of Human Resources play an integral, indispensable, and vital role in the state´s effort to care for dependent children displaced from their homes. The General Assembly further finds that it is in the best interest of Georgia´s child welfare system to acknowledge foster parents as active and participating members of this system and to support them through the following bill of rights:

(1) The right to be treated by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Resources and other partners in the care of abused children with dignity, respect, and trust as a primary provider of foster care and a member of the professional team caring for foster children;

(2) The right not to be discriminated against on the basis of religion, race, color, creed, gender, marital status, national origin, age, or physical handicap;

(3) The right to continue with his or her own family values and beliefs, so long as the values and beliefs of the foster child and the birth family are not infringed upon and consideration is given to the special needs of children who have experienced trauma and separation from their families. This shall include the right to exercise parental authority within the limits of policies, procedures, and other directions of the Division of Family and Children Services and within the limits of the laws of the State of Georgia;

(4) The right to receive both standardized pre-service training, including training in Division of Family and Children Services policies and procedures and appropriate ongoing training, by the Division of Family and Children Services or the placing agency at appropriate intervals to meet mutually assessed needs of the child and to improve foster parents´ skills and to apprise foster parents of any changes in policies and procedures of the Division of Family and Children Services and any changes in applicable law;

(5) The right to be apprised of information, laws, and guidelines on the obligations, responsibilities, and opportunities of foster parenting and to be kept informed of any changes in laws, policies, and procedures regarding foster parenting by the Division of Family and Children Services in a timely manner and at least annually;

(6) The right to receive timely financial reimbursement according to the agreement between the foster parents and the Department of Human Resources from funds appropriated by the General Assembly and to be notified of any costs or expenses for which the foster parent may be eligible for reimbursement;

(7) The right to receive information from the Division of Family and Children Services on how to receive services and reach personnel 24 hours per day, seven days per week;

(8) The right prior to the placement of a child to be notified of any issues relative to the child that may jeopardize the health and safety of the foster family or the child or alter the manner in which foster care should be administered;

(9) The right to discuss information regarding the child prior to placement. The Division of Family and Children Services will provide such information as it becomes available as allowable under state and federal laws;

(10) The right to refuse placement of a child in the foster home or to request, upon reasonable notice, the removal of a child from the foster home without fear of reprisal or any adverse affect on being assigned any future foster or adoptive placements;

(11) The right to receive any information through the Division of Family and Children Services regarding the number of times a foster child has been moved and the reasons therefor; and to receive the names and phone numbers of the previous foster parents if the previous foster parents have authorized such release and as allowable under state and federal law;

(12) The right, at any time during which a child is placed with the foster parent, to receive from the Division of Family and Children Services any and all additional pertinent information relevant to the care of the child;

(13) The right to be provided with a written copy of the individual treatment and service plan concerning the child in the foster parent´s home and to discuss such plan with the case manager, as well as reasonable notification of any changes to that plan;

(14) The right to participate in the planning of visitation with the child and the child´s biological family with the foster parents recognizing that visitation with his or her biological family is important to the child;

(15) The right to participate in the case planning and decision-making process with the Division of Family and Children Services regarding the child as provided in Code Section 15-11-58;

(16) The right to provide input concerning the plan of services for the child and to have that input considered by the department;

(17) The right to communicate for the purpose of participating in the case of the foster child with other professionals who work with such child within the context of the professional team, including, but not limited to, therapists, physicians, and teachers, as allowable under state and federal law;

(18) The right to be notified in advance, in writing, by the Division of Family and Children Services or the court of any hearing or review where the case plan or permanency of the child is an issue, including periodic reviews held by the court or by the Judicial Citizen Review Panel, hearings following revocation of the license of an agency which has permanent custody of a child, permanency hearings, and motions to extend custody, in accordance with Code Section 15-11-58;

(19) The right to be considered, where appropriate, as a preferential placement option when a child who was formerly placed with the foster parents has reentered the foster care system;

(20) The right to be considered, where appropriate, as the first choice as a permanent parent or parents for a child who, after 12 months of placement in the foster home, is released for adoption or permanent foster care;

(21) The right to be provided a fair and timely investigation of complaints concerning the operation of a foster home;

(22) The right to an explanation of a corrective action plan or policy violation relating to foster parents; and

(23) The right, to the extent allowed under state and federal law, to have an advocate present at all portions of investigations of abuse and neglect at which an accused foster parent is present. Child abuse and neglect investigations shall be investigated pursuant to Division of Family and Children Services policies and procedures, and any removal of a foster child shall be conducted pursuant to those policies and procedures. The Division of Family and Children Services will permit volunteers with the Adoptive and Foster Parent Association of Georgia to be educated concerning the procedures relevant to investigations of alleged abuse and neglect and the rights of accused foster parents. After such training, a volunteer will be permitted to serve as an advocate for an accused foster parent. All communication received by the advocate in this capacity shall be strictly confidential.

(b) This bill of rights shall be given full consideration when Division of Family and Children Services policies regarding foster care and adoptive placement are developed.

(c) Foster parents shall have the right to file a grievance in response to any violation of this article, which shall be such foster parents´ exclusive remedy for any violation of this article. The Division of Family and Children Services and the Office of the Child Advocate for the Protection of Children, along with an advisory committee comprised in part of representatives from the Adoptive and Foster Parent Association of Georgia, will develop a grievance procedure, including a mediation procedure, to be published in departmental policy manuals and the Foster Parent Handbook within one year of the effective date of the article.”

SECTION 2.

All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.

Organization

Board of Directors

Verdell Daniels
President
101 Windsor Road
Savannah, GA 31419
1-912-920-8362
verdell.daniels@yahoo.com

Carsandra Favors
Vice-President
503 Carver Road
Griffin GA 30224
404-317-5489
csfavors@bellsouth.net

Suerena Duvall
Secretary
1035 White Circle
Hinesville,Ga
1-912-492-1376
fch353@gmail.com

Larmar Burkett
Regional Vice President
4075 Ellenton-Omega Rd
Omega, Ga 31775
229-221-8396
lburkett@planttel.net

Paul Blough
Web Master
1852 Oakdale Road SE
Cairo, GA 39828
229-977-1071
pblough@bloughtech.com

Annette Wiggs
Adoption Chair
1438 Princeton Drive
Statham, GA 30666
706-621-3204
amwiggs@gmail.com

Tony Blash
Legislative Chair
107 Horseshoe Bend Court
Macon, Ga 31211
478-737-9050
tgerardblash@gmail.com

Kimberly Blough
Newsletter
1852 Oakdale Rd. SE
Cairo, GA 39828
229-977-1193
kblough@bloughtech.com

Wayne Holden
Region 1 Vice President
52 Sampson Lane
Tunnel Hill, GA 30755
706-847-9688
wayneholden@ironmountain.com

Angela Whidby
Region 2 Vice President
19031 Highway 106
Toccoa, GA 30577
404-427-1082
dogsgalore@windstream.net

Jeremiah Wiggs
Region 5 Vice President
1438 Princeton Drive
Statham, GA 30666
706-621-8312
jeremiahwiggs@yahoo.com

Teresa Weaver
Region 6 Vice President
351 Horace Veal Road
Milledgeville, GA 31061
N/A
territweaver@gmail.com

Sabrina Leonard 
Region 8 Vice President
717 Lawyer Lane
Columbus, GA 31906
706-323-3590
secfcfpa@netscape.com

Bernice Dixon
Region 9 Vice President
287 Bobby Williamson Rd
Lyons, GA 30436
912-245-5309
mamabernice@att.net

Betty Stafford
Region 10 Vice President
P.O. Box 881
Cairo, GA 398258
229-221-7194
aka1899@windstream.net

Blaine Murray
Region 11 Vice President
457 Creekside Drive
Folkston, GA 31537
912-276-4271
blainemurray01@yahoo.com

Karen Lamie
Region 12 Vice President
230 Circle Drive
Statesboro, GA 30461
912-541-6237
krlamie@gmail.com

Marjorie Jones
Region 13 Vice President
12013 Tanhandler Road
Hampton, GA 30228
678-884-5512
mjones.tre47@gmail.com

Naomi Brown
Region 14 Vice President
1660 Harbin Road SW
Atlanta, GA 30311
404-349-9631
nelabrown@bellsouth.net

CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS

CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE I – Name
The name of the corporation shall be The Adoptive and Foster Parent Association of Georgia, Inc.; (AFPAG) often referred to in this Constitution as “the Association.”


ARTICLE II – Purposes

The purposes for which the Association is formed are:

  1. To bring together all the adoptive and foster parents, agency representatives, and community people who wish to work together for the same purposes as forth in these bylaws and articles of incorporation.
  2. To encourage and promote the formation of local adoptive and foster parent associations.
  3. To promote and enhance mutual cooperation, coordination and communication among adoptive parents, foster parents, adoptive parent associations, foster parent associations, all child care agencies and other interested parties.
  4. To work in cooperation with public and private welfare agencies in improving foster care services and adoption processes.
  5. To encourage the training and education of adoptive parents, foster parents and others working in the field of adoption and family foster care.
  6. To encourage and promote the recruitment and retention of individuals to serve as foster parents or to work in the field of foster family care.
  7. To seek viable reforms in the adoption environment and family foster care.
  8. To promote, by attitude and action, constructive social action needed to bring about improvements in child welfare systems and in legislation pertaining to all children and families in general, and children in out-of-home placements, adoptive families and foster families in particular.
  9. To promote community education and awareness of adoption and foster care issues.


ARTICLE III – Nature of the Association

SECTION 1. The Association shall be incorporated, self-governing, non-profit, non-partisan, and non-sectarian and shall not discriminate against any person on the grounds of sex, race, creed, religion or national origin.  The Association shall solicit and collect funds for the accomplishment and furtherance of the Constitution and Bylaws.

SECTION 2. The Association shall not engage in any activities or exercises that are contrary to law or to the primary purposes for which this Association was formed.  In no event shall such activities violate the laws or provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, section 501(c) (3), 509(a) (2), which allows this body its tax-exempt status.

SECTION 3. In the event of the dissolution of the Association, all assets and holdings will be disposed of under the provisions of the governing Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c) (3).

ARTICLE IV – Qualifications of Members

Membership shall consist of such class or classes with such qualifications, rights and obligations as shall be set forth in the Bylaws of the Association.

ARTICLE V – Board of Directors, Officers

The Board of Directors will consist of the officers, immediate past president, the sub-regional vice presidents and the chairpersons of the standing committees. The duties of the Board of Directors shall be as set forth in the Bylaws of the Association.

ARTICLE VI – Meetings

Meetings shall be held at the call of the Board of Directors or as set forth in the Bylaws of the Association.

ARTICLE VII – Amendments
The Constitution and Bylaws may be amended by the membership.  The Constitution and Bylaws Committee will conduct an annual review of the Constitution and Bylaws to ensure that they remain accurate and current to serve the needs of Georgia’s children.  If changes are deemed necessary, the committee will report needed changes to the Board of Directors for approval.  Once changes are approved by a two-thirds majority of the Board, the revised Constitution and/or Bylaws will be presented for approval at the annual business meeting of the Association at the Annual Conference.   Passage of changes to the Constitution or Bylaws requires a two-thirds majority of the votes of those present at the annual meeting. 

Typically, the Constitution and Bylaws will not be submitted for changes more than once per year.  The results of any changes will be published in the next issue of the official publication of AFPAG or the Association web site.

THE ADOPTIVE AND FOSTER PARENT ASSOCIATION OF GEORGIA, INC. BYLAWS

ARTICLE I – Name
The name of the Association shall be The Adoptive and Foster Parent Association of Georgia, Inc. (AFPAG), often referred to in these bylaws as “the Association.”  The Association shall be self-governing, non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian, and shall not discriminate against any person on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion or national origin.  The Association shall solicit and receive funds for the accomplishment and furtherance of these bylaws.  The Association shall not engage in any activities or exercise any powers that are contrary to law or to the primary purposes for which this Association was formed, nor shall it violate any provisions of the Internal Revenue Service.


ARTICLE II – Membership

SECTION 1: Types of Membership

  1. Regular membership shall be available to all individual adoptive and foster parents in good standing with AFPAG. Only regular members will have voting privileges. 
  2. Supporting membership shall be available to any organization wishing to support the purposes and efforts of this organization. They have no voting privileges. 
  3. Honorary membership may be awarded to an individual from time to time by the Association. 

SECTION 2: Dues

Dues shall be set by the Board of Directors at its discretion.  Regular members must pay dues annually to remain in good standing.

SECTION 3: Membership Year

The membership year shall be from the Annual Conference of one year to the Annual Conference of the next year, comprising 12 months.

ARTICLE III – Officers and Duties

SECTION 1: Officers

The officers of the Association shall include: President, Executive Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Immediate Past President, Committee Chairs and the Sub-Region Vice Presidents.

SECTION 2: Structure

The Association shall be structured to work effectively with the Division of Family and Children’s Services to provide support for adoptive and foster Parents and the children in their care.

SECTION 3: Duties of the Officers

Each officer shall be a member in good standing at the time of election and for the duration of his/her term in office.  Each officer shall serve as a member of the board of directors and attend all regular, special and called meetings of the board and attend the general membership annual convention.  When his or her term of office ends, each outgoing officer shall forward the records of all activities while in office to the incoming officer within ten (10) days of the last day of his/her term.

SECTION 4: Election, Terms of Office and Replacement

1.Election

The election of President, Executive Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer shall be by ballot of the total state membership.  Any candidate for President must be a current member of the board of directors of the Adoptive and Foster Parent Association of Georgia who has also served on the Board for a period of three (2) years. 

The Regional Vice Presidents shall be elected by the ballot of the membership of their respective regions only. 

Elections and voting will be held at the Association’s annual conference. All tabulation will be conducted on Election Day. 

 The results will be published in the next issue of the official AFPAG publication or on the Association web site. 

Where there is no opposition, the board may determine to elect by acclamation the sole candidate for an office at the business meeting of the annual association.  This election by acclamation will be recorded in the minutes of the business meeting and considered the official vote of election for this candidate. 

2.Terms of Office

All officers shall serve for a period of two (2) years.
Regional Vice Presidents in even-numbered regions shall be elected in even-numbered years; Regional Vice Presidents in odd-numbered regions shall be elected in odd-numbered years. 

Elected officers shall assume their duties May 1st of the year elected.  No officer shall serve more than two (2) consecutive terms in the same office.  An officer who has served more than half of a term shall be considered to have served one term.

3.Replacement

Upon vacancy of an office, during the term, the Nominating Committee shall be notified to seek a replacement.  A replacement nomination from the Nominating Committee shall be submitted to the board for election. 

The President shall also have the authority to appoint a member to fill a vacant board position with the concurrence of the board.

ARTICLE IV – Board of Directors and Committees

SECTION 1: Structure

The governing authority of the Association shall be vested in the Board of Directors, which shall be responsible for the management and property of the Association.  The Board of Directors shall consist of the following:

  1. President, Executive Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Immediate Past President, and the Sub-Region Vice Presidents
  2. Chairpersons of the standing committees

An executive board shall consist of the following officers:  President, Executive Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Immediate Past President, and the Senior Regional Vice President.

SECTION 2: Standing Committees

Standing Committees shall have a chairperson appointed by the President.  The only exception from this procedure is the Finance Committee, whose chairperson shall be the Treasurer.  The chairperson of each committee shall be responsible for selecting other members of that committee.  When a chair is vacant, the President and/or Executive Vice President shall have the authority to direct the work of a committee until such time as a chairperson is appointed.

  1. Advocacy Committee - Responsible for managing and coordinating all AFPAG advocacy activities, under the leadership of the President and Senior Regional Vice President.
  2. Education and Conference Committee - Responsible for education and training materials for foster/adoptive parents, evaluation of workshops and training, oversight of all conference issues, identifying needs and contributions of foster/adoptive parents.
  3. Membership and Services Committee - Responsible for scholarships and awards, work to generate marketing and merchandising ideas for the Association, general membership roster coordination and liaison with other committees to ensure accuracy of maintained membership records.
  4. Finance Committee - Chaired by the Treasurer; responsible for onsite help at registration for conference, handling all money received and disbursed, filing yearly tax information, ensuring consistent bonding of officers.
  5. Legislative Policy Committee - Responsible for advocacy for legislative and policy issues at the state level and local levels, advocacy for foster, adoptive relative, kinship care issues – looking to state to fund conference training for all levels, advocate for presence of a lobbyist at the State Capitol to serve on behalf of AFPAG, advocate for consistency of policy from county to county throughout the state, help Board of Directors develop and maintain a roster of credible spokespersons.
  6. F. Adoption Committee - Responsible for serving as the Association’s coordinator on adoption issues and helping form educational programs and communications regarding adoptions through DFCS.
  7. G. Communications Committee - Responsible for developing all communications to Association members and the public regarding foster parenting and adoption issues as required for the Association to work effectively in accomplishing its goals.

Standing committees may be created, changed or dissolved by common consent of the Board of Directors.

SECTION 3: AD HOC Committees

Any appointed committee shall report their actions or decision(s) to the Board of Directors and will disband themselves after the final report is accepted by the Board.  If, after a period of six (6) months no action has been taken or report filed by an appointed committee, the committee will be disbanded.

SECTION 4: Meetings

The Board of Directors shall hold one general membership meeting per year at the annual state conference.  Other meetings may be held when scheduled by agreement of the majority of the Board of Directors.  The President shall forward to all board members a proposed agenda of the upcoming meeting.  A proposed agenda shall suffice as a written notice and shall be e-mailed to each board member not less than thirty (30) days prior to the board meetings.  Place and time of the next meeting of the Board of Directors shall be established prior to adjournment of the current meeting. The president or secretary shall be notified of any intended absences. Failure to provide notice of two consecutive absences at a board meeting will result in termination of board member. 

Because the quarterly meetings are essential to the vital work of the Association, members of the Board of Directors are urged to attend all meetings unless excused by the President.  Members of the board should notify the President and/or the Secretary of the Association at least 24 hours in advance if they are not able to attend.  Board members who miss two meetings consecutively will be terminated. 

SECTION 5: Transacting Business

The Board of Directors may transact business by paper mail, electronic mail, or conference call on proposed resolutions sent to them by the Secretary.  If, within thirty (30) days, a simple majority of the returned votes are in favor of the resolutions, then the resolutions shall be deemed approved by the Board.  Otherwise, they will fail.

SECTION 6: Audit

An independent audit of the Treasury records shall be performed at the end of each membership year.  The auditor shall be selected by a simple majority vote of the Board of Directors.  The auditor shall be instructed to direct the audit results to the President.

SECTION 7: Duties

The members of the Board of Directors share common duties with regard to the Association:

  1. To interpret and enforce the provisions of the Constitution and Bylaws of the Association
  2. To promote, by attitude and action, constructive social action needed to bring about improvements in child welfare systems and in legislation pertaining to all children and families in general, especially children in out-of-home placements:  adoptive families and foster families
  3. To act as an information center and research body regarding constitutional matters, finance, legislative actions and education as they pertain to adoption and foster care and the dissemination of such information
  4. To provide a vehicle for communication among adoptive parents, foster families, local adoptive parent associations, foster parent associations, child care agencies and other interested persons 
  5. To cooperate with other organizations that have similar objectives to those of this Association 
  6. To formulate rules and regulations deemed essential to the interests and objectives of this Association 


ARTICLE V – Association Meetings
SECTION 1: The membership of this Association shall meet once a year at the AFPAG Annual Conference.

SECTION 2: Additional meetings may be called as needed by agreement of the majority of the Board of Directors.

SECTION 3: Notice meetings and proposed agenda to include place, time and date shall be sent to membership by the President at least thirty (30) days prior to the meeting.

SECTION 4:  All meetings shall be conducted according to the most recent version of Roberts Rules of Order. 

SECTION 5: A quorum shall consist of ten (10) board members present at a board of directors meeting. 

SECTION 6: The annual AFPAG conference shall be announced through the official publication of AFPAG or through the Association web site.


ARTICLE VI – Officer Recall
When at least half of the Board of Directors perceives an officer to be unable to fulfill the duties and obligations of office as outlined in the appropriate job description, the President or person assigned by the President will counsel the officer regarding the existing deficiencies.  If satisfactory resolution is not achieved to allow the officer to fulfill the duties and obligations properly, then the officer will be asked to resign the position. 

If the officer does not resign as requested within fourteen (14) days, a special meeting of the Board will be called to recommend a Bill of Recall.  The recall will become valid with a two-thirds or greater vote of the Board present.  The officer being considered for recall may not vote. 

The results of the vote shall become a permanent record of the Board of Director’s proceedings.  The officer in question will be advised of the results of the vote as soon as possible, but no later than one week afterwards.


ARTICLE VII – Amendment

The Constitution and Bylaws may be amended by the membership.  The Constitution and Bylaws Committee will conduct an annual review of the Constitution and Bylaws to ensure that they remain accurate and current to serve the needs of Georgia’s children.  If changes are deemed necessary, the committee will report needed changes to the Board of Directors for approval.  Once changes are approved by a two-thirds majority of the Board, the revised Constitution and/or Bylaws will be presented for approval at the annual business meeting of the Association at the Annual Conference.   Passage of changes to the Constitution or Bylaws requires a two-thirds majority of the votes of those present at the annual meeting. 

Typically, the Constitution and Bylaws will not be submitted for changes more than once per year.  The results of any changes will be published in the next issue of the official publication of AFPAG or on the Association web site.

As approved unanimously by the general membership February 20, 2015.

Tax Info

 Foster Parent Tax Information Available on the webFamily Photo

We invite you to share this information with resource families. Please note, however, that available benefits will vary depending on several circumstances: the types and amounts of payments families receive from agencies; amount of family earned income; and family size. These links provide the best foster parent tax information available on the web. You might want to search the web using Google, or other search sites, for “foster family tax”, or “foster care tax”.

Be sure to also check with your state department of revenue for any state tax implications for foster care. 

Adoption Subsidy Tax Information-2005
Federal Adoption Tax Credit for Special Needs Adoption

In the summer of 2001, the Federal Adoption Tax Credit was updated. The most important update was to expand benefits to children with special needs adopted from the U.S. foster care system. Originally families adopting from the foster care system could claim the adoption tax credit, provided they had qualifying expenses. Unfortunately, the IRS list of qualifying expenses was limited to the cost of the adoption process, but not the day-to-day costs of raising a child with special needs. So starting in tax year 2003, families adopting a child with special needs from foster care, had access to this same tax credit without needing to document expenses. For tax year 2004, the tax credit is $10,390 and you have up to five year in which to use it.

The first question many people ask, or are asked by their tax preparer is, “How do I know if my child is considered to have special needs according to the IRS?” The North American Council on Adoptable Children interprets the publication to say: if you receive an adoption subsidy (assistance) for your child, it means the state that provides the subsidy has determined your child has special needs. Your adoption subsidy agreement is the evidence that the state has determined your child to have special needs.
IRS publication 968, which can be found athttp://www.irs.gov/publications/p968/ar01.html#d0e511 , is quoted below: Special Rule for Adopting a Child With Special Needs. The maximum credit and exclusion, subject to the income and tax liability limits discussed earlier, will be allowed for the adoption of a child with special needs even if you do not have any qualifying expenses . For 2004, the maximum amount for each is $10,390.

Child with special needs. An eligible child is a child with special needs if he or she is a citizen or resident of the United States (including U.S. possessions) and a state (including the District of Columbia) determines that the child cannot or should not be returned to his or her parents’ home and probably will not be adopted unless adoption assistance is provided to the adoptive parents. Factors used by states to determine if a child has special needs could include:

• The child’s ethnic background,
• The child’s age,
• Whether the child is a member of a minority or sibling group, or
• Whether the child has a medical condition or physical, mental, or emotional handicap.

If your state has determined that the child you are adopting is a child with special needs, you should keep evidence of that fact for your records.

The second most common question is, “What does this mean to our family?” We don’t know the specific answer to that question because we don’t do your taxes. However, we can help you figure it out. Many people believe the Federal Adoption Tax Credit won’t help them because they get a refund every year, but that isn’t necessarily true. A refund means you have overpaid what you owe in federal income tax, so the IRS refunds you the amount overpaid. The tax credit is applied against what you owe, and could reduce it to $0, which would increase your refund. The amount that you owe is the number you come up with from the tax tables (or the number in line 28 of the 1040A, or line 45 of the 1040). Here are some examples of how the tax credit might benefit your family.

Family one is a couple who adopts a sibling group of two children with special needs. They typically have $6,500 in federal income tax withheld from their paychecks, and the tax that they owe is $7,000, which means they owe $500 in April. Now, with the adoption tax credit, they have $20,780 in credits, and this year they could use up to $7,000 of the credit.1 This will mean they get a refund this year of $6,500, and will have at least $13,780 of tax credit to carryover for up to four years.

Family two is a single mother who adopts a sibling group of three children with special needs. Typically she has $5,000 in federal income tax withheld from her paychecks, and the tax that she owes is $4,000, which means she receives a refund of $1,000 in April. Now, with the adoption tax credit, she has $31,170 in credits, and this year she could use up to $4,000 of the credit.1 This will mean she will get a refund this year of $5,000, and will have at least $27,170 of tax credit to carryover for up to four years.

Information for filling out Form 8839: Qualified Adoption Expenses:

If you do your own taxes, you may have a couple questions when you fill out Form 8839.

What do you do when they ask for qualifying expenses on line 5 and you didn’t have any? Go to page 3 of the instructions for 8839, which can be found athttp://www.irs.gov/instructions/i8839/ch02.html#d0e616, quoted below, it says: But, if you adopted a child with special needs and the adoption became final in 2004, enter $10,390 on line 5.

What if the tax you owe is less than $10,390? Then you will also need to fill out the Credit Carryforward Worksheet on page 4 of the instructions for 8839. This is how you are able to carry the remaining credit forward for up to four years.

If you have questions on the adoption tax credit, contact the North American Council on Adoptable Children at 651-644-3036 or adoption.assistance@nacac.org.

If you can claim the child tax credit (see IRS publication 972) or other credits, you should claim them.

Internal Revenue Service publications- www.irs.gov
Publication 525: Taxable and Nontaxable Income
Publication 968: Tax Benefits for Adoption
Facts about Tax credits for Working Families – http://nfpaonline.org/ref/documents/EIC.pdf