Distribution:  X, Z, C-3


DATE:             April 10, 2000


TO:                  All DCFS and Private Agency Child Welfare Staff and Supervisors


FROM:                        Jess McDonald, Director


EFFECTIVE DATE:    Immediately


I.                    PURPOSE


The purpose of this transmittal is to inform all Department and private agency staff handling adoptions of DCFS wards from Cook County of the new procedure for adoption attorney payments and the DCFS Cook County Adoption Attorney Panel.  This policy applies only to adoptions completed in Cook County.


This policy guide replaces Policy Guide 99.15.  




Adoptive parents may select the attorney of their choice.  The only limitation is that the attorney must be licensed to practice law in Illinois.


DCFS and private agency workers are not to refer adoptive parents to attorneys. If an adopting parent wants the name of a qualified, trained attorney who is on the DCFS Cook County Adoption Attorney Panel, he or she should be advised to call 312-/633-1801or check the DCFS web site at www.state.il.us/dcfs.  In no event should an adoptive parent be given a list of attorneys that was generated prior to January 5, 2000.  The adoptive parent may also be referred to a foster parent association for assistance in selecting an attorney.  If a child’s case is in the Expedited Adoption Program, the adoptive parents have the same rights regarding attorney selection.




The Department has established a Cook County Adoption Attorney Panel.  This is a listing of attorneys who have met the following established criteria:


·         have a current license to practice law in Illinois and a history of compliance with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

·         have malpractice insurance coverage;

·         have at least three years of practice as an attorney;

·         have represented adoptive parents in at least five adoptions in the last two years;

·         have completed DCFS training on adoption assistance agreements and adoption issues; and

·         have agreed to conform to the terms of a contract and program plan with the Department.


Any attorney may apply to be on the Cook County Adoption Attorney Panel at any time.  To obtain an application, the attorney should call 312/633-3412.


Attorneys on the Cook County Adoption Attorney Panel will be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary costs of a subsidized adoption directly by DCFS.


IV.                PAYMENT


The Department will pay a maximum of $1500 per adopted child for nonrecurring adoption expenses.  These expenses include reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other attorney and adoptive family expenses that are directly related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs.


DCFS will act as the fiscal agent for adoptive parents when the attorney is on the Cook County Adoption Attorney Panel.  As a fiscal agent, DCFS will pay the attorney directly on behalf of the adopting parent.


When an adopting parent selects an attorney that is not on the Cook County Adoption Attorney Panel, DCFS will reimburse the adoptive parent for attorney fees, up to the maximum of $1500 per adopted child.


V.                  SUBSIDIES


Attorneys are now responsible for reviewing and negotiating to completion the adoption subsidy.  Upon attorney request, Departmental staff should supply needed documentation for the attorney to successfully review the subsidy.  Such documentation would include anything that relates to the child’s special needs (i.e. medical documents, psychological assessments, school reports).  If the supporting documentation contains confidential information, such as the name or address of the birth parent, said information should be redacted from the document prior to forwarding to the attorney.


VI.        Questions


Questions regarding this new process may be directed to Christina Schneider at 312/633-3412.




File this policy guide behind Procedures 302.310, page 6.