What You Need to Know About Adoption Coverage Benefits

What are the benefits of offering adoption coverage packages, and how can employers begin offering them? Find out what your company needs to know.

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What You Need to Know About Adoption Coverage Benefits

Here's what you need to know:

  • Adoption benefits better the lives of employees, while enticing potential candidates and creating a company reputation of being family-friendly
  • Adoption benefits typically fall into 3 categories: financial assistance, information and referrals, and parental leave coverage
  • Employers can offer all 3 types of assistance or create a program that fits their needs and the needs of their employees

Most employers understand the importance of offering a comprehensive benefits package to employees. In today’s job market, the availability of benefits that create a better work-life balance is one of the biggest draws for employees looking for work.

A study by Glassdoor found that 60% of people consider benefits and perks a major factor when considering a job offer, and 80% would choose extra benefits over a larger salary.

There is an entire menu of benefit options that employers commonly offer to employees. This includes the big ones such as health insurance, retirement packages, and paid time off. However, 1 of the lesser utilized options is employer-funded adoption coverage benefits.

Although it may be often overlooked by employers, the popularity of offering adoption assistance to employees is growing every year. According to Aon Hewitt’s survey of 1,000 U.S. companies, the percentage of employers who offer this type of coverage has grown from only 12% in 1990 to 56% in 2015.

Adoption benefits better the lives of employees, while enticing potential candidates and creating a company reputation of being family-friendly.

Adoption benefits better the lives of employees, while enticing potential candidates and creating a company reputation of being family-friendly. This article will explain why adding an adoption coverage program to an organization’s benefits package is a great idea.

Also, we will cover some of the basics of what adoption benefits should look like, and how employers can get started creating a program that fits their needs.

The benefits of offering an adoption coverage package

There are overarching benefits gained when employers offer adoption assistance to their employees.

First, it creates a positive public image that speaks to the values and compassion of an organization. Employees are looking for an employer who supports all their needs, both in and out of the workplace.

That’s why benefits are such an important part of a job offer. But aside from the reputation boost, organizations stand to gain multiple benefits from offering this type of assistance:

  • Increases employee loyalty and retention
  • Increases employee satisfaction and improves work-life balance
  • Provides incentives for potential candidates
  • Boosts the attractiveness of benefit package offerings
  • Creates a reputation of fairness and equality

On top of these benefits is another big 1 for organizations — adoption benefits are 1 of the lowest-cost offerings available. This is because only about 0.1% of eligible employees use adoption benefits.

What do adoption coverage benefits look like?

Adoption coverage benefits are employee-funded programs that offer a combination of perks to employees to help them through the process of adoption.

Employers offer these benefits to employees who adopt children, whether through domestic private agencies, internationally, or through the U.S. foster care system.

Adoption benefits typically fall into 3 categories: financial assistance, information and referrals, and parental leave coverage. Employers can offer all 3 types of assistance or create a program that fits their needs and the needs of their employees.

The popularity of offering these types of benefits to employees is growing significantly. This is mostly because they offer a great draw for recruitment efforts while supporting the needs of current employees. Organizations of all sizes and from all sectors offer adoption coverage benefits for employees.

Financial assistance and reimbursement

Financial assistance helps cover the costs associated with adoption. Provided funds help pay for qualified expenses, such as:

  • Agency and application fees
  • Attorney fees and court costs
  • Transportation and lodging
  • Immigration and naturalization fees
  • Medical expenses not covered by insurance, including those of a birth mother
  • Home study costs
  • Other qualifying expenses (deemed reasonable and necessary)

It’s important to understand that although financial assistance programs offered for adoption are not mandated by law, there is oversight from the IRS. The amount of assistance offered is up to the individual organization and ranges from $5,000 up to $20,000.

Some organizations put an annual or lifetime limit on this type of assistance and may specify a certain amount per adoption event or adopted child. Some employers offer additional assistance to families who adopt children considered to have special needs.

Rather than allocate all available funds after a child is in a home, it’s recommended that employers offer scheduled disbursements. This will help families navigate the adoption process.

This is because it can take up to 6 months after placement for an adoption to be legally finalized. Many of the costs incurred during the process will take place before the official adoption.

Adoption leave coverage

Employer-sponsored adoption leave is another benefit that is becoming more popular in the workplace. Many employers offer paid or unpaid leave for biological parents after the birth of a child, and many are realizing the importance of offering this type of perk to adoptive parents as well.

Allowing time for children and parents to create strong bonds is vital for health and well-being. This is true for both biological and adoptive families.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires all public agencies and private employers with 50 or more employees to provide 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave, including adoptive parents. The problem with this federal benefit is that it doesn’t kick in until the adoption is legally finalized.

This allows time for the important act of bonding after the adoption. However, it doesn’t cover the time a family might need during the initial adoption process.

Again, it could be months before the adoption is legally finalized, which leaves adoptive families without significant time to bond during those crucial 1st weeks and months together.

For this reason, many employers offer a period of paid or unpaid leave to assist families in the adoption process. This is on top of the federally mandated leave of 12 weeks. The average amount of time employers offer ranges from 1 week up to 20 weeks.

Adoption information and referral services

Aside from offering financial assistance and leave coverage, many employers offer ways to promote adoption as a part of their workplace culture. This might include providing legal advice or assistance to families interested in adopting. Employers may provide access to information and resources from adoption agencies or directories.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption provides amazing resources to employers looking to start an adoption coverage program in their organization. The foundation offers resources and information that employers can use to educate and assist their employees in learning more about adoption. One such resource is their fact sheet called Finding Forever Families: A Step-By-Step Guide to Adoption.

There are many adoption organizations nationwide that will be happy to partner with organizations interested in promoting adoption. They may offer support in the way of public speakers, pamphlets, fliers, and more.

Another popular event celebrated by adoption-friendly organizations is National Adoption Day. The event is a national collective effort to raise awareness of the need for families to adopt. Employers can participate by celebrating current employees who have adopted or by organizing charity events.

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Adoption coverage benefits are a great way to support employees

Offering adoption coverage benefits is a great way to support your staff while gaining benefits for the organization itself. Companies that wish to create and implement adoption coverage programs can visit The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption website, which includes helpful toolkits, step-by-step guidance, and learning resources for employers.

Supporting employees and their families through an adoption process makes sense in many ways. Not only will it boost an organization’s public image and reputation, but it will also leave employees feeling more supported and included. Plus, for many organizations, it’s just the right thing to do.

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