The Oklahoma Department of Human Services cannot cap the maximum amount of financial assistance subsidies available to adoptive parents of special needs children at a rate lower than the cap established for foster parents of special needs children, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
Justices ruled it was wrong to cap the monthly subsidies for adoptive parents of special needs children at $310.50 per child, while setting a cap of $365 per child for foster parents of special needs children.
The ruling came in a case filed by Kelly and Tina Troxell, parents of two adoptive special needs children.
“DHS is attempting to apply a predetermined fixed amount of subsidy without allowing adoptive parents to show greater need up to the amount provided for special needs children in foster care,” the state Supreme Court said. “This is contrary to the policy and purpose of the statutory law providing and regulating assistance to people who undertake parental responsibility and care of special needs children.”
The state Supreme Court ruling reversed a Tulsa County District Court decision and set aside an opinion by the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals.
DHS now will go back and negotiate a new subsidy rate with the Troxells, said Sheree Powell, spokeswoman for DHS.
Powell said DHS attorneys are reviewing the court ruling and she is unsure how it will affect other cases in the state.