[Watch related coverage on adoption in Ohio in the player above.]

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — Ohio parents who adopt a child can now receive an up to $20,000 grant instead of a tax credit through a new state program.

“Our goal is to make Ohio the best state to start and raise a family,” Gov. Mike DeWine is quoted in a Friday news release.

An executive order signed Friday by the governor launched the Ohio Adoption Grant Program, which replaces Ohio’s existing state adoption tax credit with three levels of one-time payments:

  • $10,000 to anyone who adopts a child, excluding stepparents
  • $15,000 for parents who were foster caregivers for the child prior to adoption, including kinship caregivers
  • $20,000 to families that adopt a child with special needs, as determined by a qualified professional

“While the $10,000 grant is available for most adoptions, additional dollars are available for foster caregivers who adopt a child they are caring for, as well as for instances where the child has a special need,” Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Matt Damschroder is quoted in the release. “More than 3,000 youth in foster care are awaiting adoption, and this grant will support those welcoming a new member of their family.”

The program, which was signed into law in January, applies to parents who adopt children under the age of 18. It applies to private adoptions and adoptions through children services agencies finalized on or after Jan. 1, 2023. It applies to foster adoptions and adoptions by kinship caregivers — but does not apply to adoptions by stepparents.

Ohioans can apply online at AdoptionGrant.Ohio.gov. Applicants need two forms of identification and documentation showing the adoption was finalized. Parents will also need to show proof that the child was previously in the parent’s foster care, or that the child has special needs.

“Every child deserves a safe, permanent, loving home,” DeWine is quoted in the release. “Whether you’re adopting from the foster care system, or through private adoption, the Ohio Adoption Grant will help offset the cost of growing your family.”

The state’s previous tax credit offered between $1,500 and $10,000 for expenses related to each adoption, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation. That was separate from the federal adoption tax credit, which offers up to $15,950 per adopted child for adoptions finalized in 2023, according to the National Council for Adoption.

About 1,600 children are adopted from the Ohio foster care system each year, according to the governor’s order.