Resources for Foster/Kinship/Adoptive Families

AHCCCS is committed to providing comprehensive, quality health care for children in out-of-home care and residing with licensed, kinship, or adoptive caregivers. Children in out-of-home care are eligible for medical and dental care, inpatient, outpatient, behavioral health, and other services through the Mercy Care Department of Child Safety Comprehensive Health Plan (Mercy Care DCS CHP). Children who have been adopted are typically AHCCCS eligible and enroll in a health plan similar to any Medicaid eligible child.

How to Access Services

Mercy Care DCS CHP is the health plan for Arizona's children and youth placed in out-of-home care.

Foster and Kinship Caregiver Resource Packet

Services for Adoptive Children

Adoptive children follow the same enrollment process as other Medicaid eligible children. For physical health, adoptive parents choose from a range of health plans that cover all medical and dental services.

For more information about what benefits AHCCCS offers, see:
AHCCCS Programs and Covered Services

For a list of available health plans, see:
Available Health Plans

For behavioral health, children are assigned to a RBHA based on where they live; the RBHA manages the behavioral health benefits.

Adoptive children with special health care needs may be enrolled in Children’s Rehabilitative Services (CRS).

Foster/Kinship/Adoptive Family Rights and Information

Consent for Behavioral Health Services

Licensed and unlicensed caregivers can consent to most services. Arizona law (A.R.S. 8-514.05(C)) allows foster parents, group home staff, relatives, or other people or agencies where a child is placed to give consent for (a) evaluation and treatment for emergency conditions that are not life threatening and (b) routine medical and dental procedures, including early periodic screening diagnosis and treatment services, and services by health care providers to relieve pain or treat symptoms of common childhood illnesses or conditions.

AHCCCS and DCS BHS Consent Clarification Letter

Psychotropic Medication: A Guide for DCS Specialists and Licensed Caregivers

Children and youth who enter the child welfare system bring with them a unique set of behaviors, problems, and issues that can arise from abuse, neglect, and/or removal from their home. According to a national study by the Urban Institute, foster children experience higher levels of emotional and behavior problems, more often had physical, learning, or mental health conditions that limited their psychosocial functioning, and were less engaged in school and more likely to have been expelled than children living within their parent’s care. This guide is intended for use by Arizona Department of Child Safety Specialists, Kinship Caregivers, licensed resource parents, and the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) group home staff to provide information and tools to help improve their awareness of the use of psychotropic medication.

Psychotropic Medication: A Guide for CPS Specialists and Licensed Caregivers

Child and Family Team Information

When children in out-of-home care and residing with licensed, kinship, or adoptive caregivers are enrolled in Arizona’s behavioral health system, a Child and Family Team (CFT) is developed. The CFT will include a CFT Facilitator that will assist in determining team members and scheduling CFT meetings. Below is more information for caregivers and providers about preparing for a CFT appointment.

CFT Parent/Caregiver Preparation Guide

For more information about Child and Family Teams:

Policy Updates

Governor Ducey's Administrative Simplification

The Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) and AHCCCS have been partners in an effort to improve care for Arizona’s adoptive and licensed/unlicensed caregivers receiving behavioral health services. Governor Ducey recommended formalizing the partnership by bringing DBHS and AHCCCS together. This administrative simplification does not change services children in out-of-home care can receive, nor does it change how these children receive services. It also will not disrupt the important services DBHS provides to caregivers. Instead, the merger is an opportunity to increase focus on whole-person health, reduce stigma, and enhance service delivery for all members.

To further the administrative simplification, services for foster youth became integrated effective April 1, 2021. This integration brought all youth involved with the Department of Child Safety (DCS) under the single statewide health plan Mercy Care Department of Child Safety Comprehensive Health Plan (Mercy Care DCS CHP) for their physical, behavioral, and dental health care.

Jacob’s Law (HB 2442)

On March 24th, 2016 Governor Ducey signed Jacob’s Law, a crucial step forward in addressing the needs of children in out-of-home care . AHCCCS is committed to simplify accessing needed behavioral health care services for these children. Below are some of the steps we have to help in this effort.

  • Requiring a designated point of contact for all families involved in the DCS system,
  • Clarifying families can contact Mercy Care DCS/CHP or AHCCCS directly anytime for help scheduling an appointment or navigating the healthcare system,
  • Issuing a statement signed by former AHCCCS Director Betlach and former DCS Director McKay to clarify that licensed and unlicensed caregivers can consent to behavioral health services for children in their care,
  • Requiring the RBHAs and Mercy Care CHP to form committees within their own organizations designed to create a pathway for regular communication and feedback from licensed and unlicensed caregivers,
  • Enforcing greater access to care and encouraging families to report providers who indicate they are unable to provide timely access to covered behavioral health services, and
  • Holding ongoing meetings to ensure we hear from stakeholders about how to improve the system.

The AHCCCS OIFA office provides training on Jacob’s Law at regular intervals as well as by request. To request Jacob’s Law training, please fill out our request form.

Governor Ducey Signs Crucial Legislation for Arizona Foster Children

Statement from AHCCCS Director on Signing of Jacob’s Law

Letter from the Arizona Association of Health Plans

DCS Forms

As part of the requirements for obtaining inpatient assessment and/or treatment for a child in out-of-home care, DCS staff must receive specific written reports from the inpatient psychiatrist, psychologist, or physician. We respectfully request that you share a reminder with your providers of their requirements to complete the attached documents and the timelines in which policy and statute outlines.

These forms are designed to ensure the provider and DCS meet the statutory burden for the court to approve continued inpatient treatment for DCS youth (ARS 8-272 and 8-273).

The following forms need to be completed and returned to the assigned DCS Specialist at key points in the process:

Foster Care Specific Reports & Data

Therapeutic Foster Care/Home Care Training to Home Care Client - Analysis and Recommendations

AHCCCS hired Mercer Government Human Services Consulting (Mercer) to perform an analysis on Home Care Training to Home Care Client (HCTC) also known as Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC).

Therapeutic Foster Care/Home Care Training to Home Care Client - Analysis and Recommendations

In an effort to support youth requiring behavioral health services with daily behavioral interventions within a licensed family setting, AHCCCS developed a TFC tiered rate structure for health plans to utilize. The requirements for the provision of care and services to members in TFC can be found under AMPM 320-W Therapeutic Foster Care for Children.

Independent Analysis of an Integrated Health Plan for CMDP

AHCCCS hired Mercer Government Human Services Consulting (Mercer) to perform an analysis of implementing an integrated health plan for children in foster care. The analysis was designed to identify the operational and ongoing infrastructure requirements of an integrated health plan administered through the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS)/Comprehensive Medical and Dental Program (CMDP).

AHCCCS Analysis of an Integrated Health Plan - Revised with ACO Model

Data Dashboard