Settlement Reached to Ensure Adopted Children with Disabilities are Provided the Benefits Needed to Pay for their Care and Support

Impacting children across California who are eligible for Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) benefits and regional center services.
Press Release

Settlement Reached to Ensure Adopted Children with Disabilities are Provided the Benefits Needed to Pay for their Care and Support

A you husband and wife with their new adopted daughter who has a disability.
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(Sacramento, CA) - On November 9, 2022, Disability Rights California (DRC) entered a settlement agreement with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) that will help ensure children with disabilities who are eligible for regional center services are paid the correct rate for their care and support under the Adoption Assistance Program (AAP).

The agreement also reverses a hearing decision that denied payment of retroactive AAP benefits to DRC’s client M.J., a regional center consumer with complex medical needs who was grossly underpaid their AAP benefits for nearly a decade, causing significant hardship for M.J. and his adoptive family.  The final settlement addresses this underpayment and will help ensure M.J. is able to get the care and support he needs moving forward.     

“This agreement not only helps remedy the egregious wrong experienced by our client and his adoptive family, but ensures that regional center-eligible children across the state are paid the AAP benefits they need, regardless of when they first become eligible,” said Nicholas Levenhagen, Litigation Counsel with Disability Rights California. 

Background on the AAP Program

The AAP program provides financial and medical coverage to parents to facilitate the adoption of children with disabilities who would otherwise remain in long-term foster care.

Children who are also eligible for regional center services are provided a much higher AAP benefit rate called the “Dual Agency” rate.  Children with “extraordinary care and supervision needs” may also be eligible for an additional supplement payment.   

Unfortunately, the need to increase a child’s AAP benefits to include the Dual Agency rate and supplement can be easily missed if the child becomes eligible for regional center services after an adoption is finalized.  For example, DRC’s client M.J. did not begin receiving regional center services until two years after his adoption was finalized.  Despite M.J.’s adoptive parent repeatedly informing the county of his status as a regional center consumer, he was not paid the AAP Dual Agency rate and supplement until nearly a decade later.  During this time, M.J.’s adoptive family constantly struggled to pay for housing and other basic needs while also covering the costs of his complex care needs.

To address this issue, CDSS published updates to the “Adoption Assistance Program Agreement” (AD 4320) and “Reassessment Information” (AAP 3) forms to provide additional information about the Dual Agency rate and supplement, and to improve the process for identifying children who are eligible for the higher rate during AAP reassessments.

These forms are available here:

How You Can Get Help

If you or someone you know is having a problem with AAP benefits, please contact DRC at 1-800-776-5746 or TTY 1-800-719-5798.

Media Contacts

Melody Pomraning
Communications Director
Disability Rights California
(916) 504-5938


Disability Rights California (DRC) – Is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. The mission of DRC is to defend, advance, and strengthen the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities. For more information visit: