Special Needs Child Law and Legal Definition

Special needs child" is a way to refer to Children with disabilities.

The following is an example of a state statute defining the term:

"Special needs child" means a child for whom all of the following are true:

(a) It has been determined that the child cannot or should not be returned to the home of his or her parents, as evidenced by a petition for termination of parental rights, a court order terminating parental rights, or a signed relinquishment.

(b) The child has at least one of the following characteristics that is a barrier to his or her adoption:

(1) Adoptive placement without financial assistance is unlikely because of membership in a sibling group that should remain intact, or by virtue of race, ethnicity, color, language, age of three years or older, or parental background of a medical or behavioral nature that can be determined to adversely affect the development of the child.

(2) Adoptive placement without financial assistance is unlikely because the child has a mental, physical, emotional, or medical disability that has been certified by a licensed professional competent to make an assessment and operating within the scope of his or her profession. This paragraph shall also apply to children with a developmental disability as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 4512 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, including those determined to require out-of-home nonmedical care as described in Section 11464 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.

(c) The need for adoption subsidy is evidenced by an unsuccessful search for an adoptive home to take the child without financial assistance, as documented in the case file of the prospective adoptive child. The requirement for this search shall be waived when it would be against the best interest of the child because of the existence of significant emotional ties with prospective adoptive parents while in the care of these persons as a foster child.” [Cal Fam Code § 8545]