New employee benefit assists with adoption costs

Financial help is available to ISU employees who adopt a child, under a new benefit that took effect July 1.

Approved as a three-year pilot by the state Board of Regents at its June 2 meeting, the adoption assistance reimbursement program covers eligible expenses related to adopting a child, up to $5,000 per adoption. ISU brought the proposal to the board in response to an employee's request.

Providing financial support for employees adopting children is an increasingly common employee benefit, and offering adoption assistance at Iowa State takes into consideration that ISU-sponsored health plans cover most, if not all, of the medical expenses of birthing a child, said Ed Holland, director of benefits and WorkLife for university human resources. Under a longstanding policy, employees also may use up to five days of sick time to take time off when newly adopting a child.

"Iowa State University recognizes that families are built in many ways," Holland said. 

The program covers adoption of any person under the age of 18 or physically or mentally incapable of self-care, other than the child of an employee's spouse or domestic partner. Use of the benefit is limited to two adoptions, for a lifetime maximum of $10,000. Siblings adopted simultaneously are considered one adoption. 

The program is available to benefits-eligible faculty, staff and post-docs who have a regular or term appointment of at least half-time. If two parents adopting a child are both ISU employees, the household's combined reimbursement limit remains $5,000 per adoption for no more than two adoptions. 

Adoption expenses that qualify for reimbursement include:

  • Adoption agency and placement fees, including for home study
  • Legal fees and court costs
  • Required medical expenses, including immunizations
  • Temporary foster care
  • Immigration and translation
  • Travel expenses, other than mileage and fuel
  • Counseling associated with placement and initial adjustment 

Expenses will be reimbursed after the adoption is finalized. Expenses and the adoption will require documentation. Reimbursement submissions will be administered by ASIFlex, the third-party vendor that manages ISU flexible spending account reimbursements for dependent care and medical expenses.

To be approved to use the program, employees must submit a request in Workday. The fringe benefit accounting and compliance team will determine eligibility and notify the requesting employee. See the program webpage for more information on how to submit a request.