Caregivers can assume legal guardianship of a child in out-of-home care without termination of parental rights, as is required for an adoption. Legal guardianship is more durable but more complex than transfer of custody to caregivers. Guardianship is most frequently used by relative caregivers who wish to provide a permanent home for the child and maintain relationships with extended family members.
The resources below discuss guardianship as an option for children in out-of-home care, including including State and local examples.
Guardianship and Youth Permanence
In Achieving Permanence for Older Children and Youth in Foster Care
Reviews research on kinship care in relation to well-being, permanency, and safety of foster youth. The chapter examines efforts to make kin guardianship a viable permanency option for many children in foster care and to enhance permanency options for older foster care youth.
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections
Links to reports, teleconferences, presentations, websites, and State resources related to guardianship.
Bridging Refugee Youth & Childrenâ€™s Services
Provides resources for relative and nonrelative caregivers, including a searchable directory for guardianship procedures by State.
Let's Help Caregivers and Children in Informal Kinship Care: De Facto Custodian Legislation
Gibson & Singh
Child Welfare, 89(3), 2010
Introduces the significance of the de facto concept and provides detailed information on its components and limitations. Recommendations are for social education and practice are included.
Strengthening Families Through Guardianship (PDF - 514 KB)
Pew Charitable Trusts & Kids Are Waiting: Fix Foster Care Now (2008)
Reviews the benefits of supported legal guardianship with a relative or another caring adult for children in foster care. The brief explains legal rights of guardianship and advocates for a Federal subsidized guardianship program.
State and local examples
The Guardianship Book for California: How to Become a Child's Legal Guardian
Brown & Doskow (2011)
Provides forms and instructions for adults in California that can be used to obtain guardianship of a minor without the help of a lawyer.
Kinship Guardianship Assistance: A Permanency Option for New York State (PDF - 675 KB)
Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy (2010)
Describes the newly authorized Kinship Guardianship Assistance program as a way to support permanency for older youth in care.
Making the Decision to Become a Child's Permanent Family (PDF - 26 KB)
Iowa Department of Human Services (2006)
Presents a chart showing the differences between adoption and guardianship to help those considering both options make the decision.
Pursuing Permanence for Children in Foster Care: Issues and Options for Establishing a Federal Guardianship Assistance Program in New York State (PDF - 387 KB)
Testa & Cohen (2010)
Discusses the backlog of children in long-term foster care in New York State, the benefits of kinship care, and the promise of subsidized guardianship.