For years Nevada’s Adoption Assistance Program has provided a subsidy to encourage the adoption of special needs children. The subsidy provides financial support for families who adopt children with special needs from foster care by enabling them to adopt without an undue financial burden. The subsidy is based on the child’s special needs rather than the adoptive family’s income and is valuable to encourage families to adopt special needs children because the families know the adoption will not harm their financial position.
However, McFarling Law Group associate attorney Lesley Cohen, who is also a member of the Nevada Assembly and Legislature, learned from adoptive families that there was a gap in the program for special needs adoptive children. The subsidy continued until children turned eighteen-years-old. This meant that children who turned eighteen-years-old before they graduated from high school were cut off from the subsidy, even though high school students who turn eighteen are not automatically self-supporting. They still live at home and go to school, working toward graduation.
For these adoptive families, cutting off the subsidy before the children graduate from high school frequently leaves their families financially burdened. At the same time, because of their special needs, these children often struggled just to graduate, and getting a job to financially help their families was out of the question. These children needed to focus on graduating and not getting a job to help their families support them. Graduating from high school needed to be their biggest concern, not financially helping their family.
Working with a family impacted by the subsidy, Lesley brought Assembly Bill 255 which passed in the 2023 legislative session and is now law. AB 255 simply extends the subsidy until the children graduate from high school or turn nineteen, whichever is later. This gives the now young adults time to graduate so they do not feel obliged to get a job when graduating from high school should be their focus. While it may seem like a simple change, AB 255 gives the families and students some breathing room to concentrate on graduating from high school, and, as we all know, graduating from high school is fundamental to starting out adult life successfully. If you are interested in learning about adoption, please call the attorneys at McFarling Law Group.