Kinship Guardianship as a Permanency Option - Alaska

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Definitions

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 53.299

A 'legal guardian' means the caregiver in a judicially created relationship between child and caregiver that is intended to be permanent and self-sustaining.

A 'relative guardian' means a guardian or prospective guardian who is related to a child by blood, marriage, fictive kin, or Tribal custom. For purposes of this paragraph, 'fictive kin' means an individual who is unrelated to the child by birth or marriage but has an emotionally significant relationship with a child that has the characteristics of a family relationship.

Purpose of Guardianship

Citation: CPS Manual § 3.12

Guardianship is an option for providing a permanent home for children younger than age 18 in the custody of the Department of Health and Social Services who cannot be reunified with their parents and for whom adoption is not the most appropriate permanency goal.

A Guardian's Rights and Responsibilities

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.10.084(b); Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 53.299

The rights and responsibilities may include, but are not limited to, having the right and responsibility of reasonable visitation, consenting to marriage, consenting to military enlistment, consenting to major medical treatment, obtaining representation for the child in legal actions, and making decisions of legal or financial significance concerning the child.

In regulation: A legal guardianship transfers to the caregiver each of the following parental rights with respect to the child:

  • Protection
  • Education
  • Care and control of the person
  • Custody of the person
  • Decision-making

Qualifying the Guardian

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.14.100(j), (m); Admin. Code Tit. 7, §§ 56.660; 50.055

To determine whether the home of a relative meets the requirements for placement of a child, the department shall conduct fingerprint-based State and national criminal background checks on all members of the relative's household who are age 16 or older when the relative requests placement of the child.

Good cause not to place a child with an adult family member or family friend includes the failure to meet the requirements for a foster care license, taking into account any allowable waiver, variance, or exemption. Good cause not to place a child with an adult family member or family friend does not include poverty or inadequate or crowded housing.

In regulation: An agency shall conduct a home study for all applicants in the family being considered as a guardianship home. The home study must include the following:

  • One face-to-face interview with all persons living in the home
  • One onsite home visit
  • An assessment of the capabilities and willingness of the applicant to properly parent the child

The agency shall request a child protection and licensing clearance from the department for each adult member of the household. The agency may and the division will, in its discretion, require that a person residing in an applicant household provide an evaluation from a probation, health, or mental health professional affirming that the person is free from problems that can be detrimental to the health, safety, or well-being of a child. In addition, the agency shall obtain at least three positive written references on the applicant, at least two of which are from persons unrelated to the applicant.

In evaluating a relative applicant, the agency will discuss with the applicant and document any recommended variance from a requirement. The supervisor will review the evaluation to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the child is protected.

Procedures for Establishing Guardianship

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.10.110; CPS Manual § 3.12

When, in the course of a Child In Need of Aid proceeding under this chapter, it appears to the court that the welfare of a minor will be promoted by the appointment of a guardian or custodian of the minor's person, the court may make the appointment. The court shall have a summons issued and served upon the parents of the minor, if they can be found, in a manner and within a time before the hearing that the court considers reasonable. The court may determine whether the father, mother, another suitable person, or the department shall have the custody and control of the minor. If the minor is of sufficient age and intelligence to state desires, the court shall consider them.

In policy: The prospective guardian must:

  • Have cared for the child a minimum of 6 months or have previously cared for the child for at least 6 months
  • Agree to assume guardianship duties and responsibilities and provide a stable home for the child until he or she reaches age 18
  • Receive an approved guardianship home study

Contents of a Guardianship Order

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.10.084

When a guardian is appointed for the child, the court shall specify in its order the rights and responsibilities of the guardian.

When there has been transfer of legal custody or appointment of a guardian and parental rights have not been terminated by court decree, the parents shall have residual rights and responsibilities. These residual rights and responsibilities of the parent include, but are not limited to, the right and responsibility of reasonable visitation; consent to adoption; consent to marriage; consent to military enlistment; consent to major medical treatment except in cases of emergency or cases falling under § 25.20.025; and the responsibility for support, except if by court order any residual right and responsibility has been delegated to a guardian.

Modification/Revocation of Guardianship

Citation: Alaska Stat. §§ 47.10.084(b); 13.26.075

The guardian may be removed only by court order.

A guardian's authority and responsibility terminate upon the death, resignation, or removal of the guardian or upon the minor's death, adoption, marriage, or attainment of majority. However, termination does not affect the guardian's liability for prior acts, nor the obligation to account for funds and assets of the ward. Resignation of a guardian does not terminate the guardianship until it has been approved by the court.

Kinship Guardianship Assistance

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 7, §§ 53.226; 53.227

A child in department custody is eligible for title IV-E relative guardianship assistance if:

  • The child has been removed from the home of his or her parent and is eligible for title IV-E foster care maintenance payments for at least 6 consecutive months during which the child resided in the home of the prospective relative guardian.
  • Being returned to the home of his or her parent or being adopted is not an appropriate permanency option for the child.
  • The prospective guardian is a relative of the child.
  • The prospective guardian's home is licensed as a foster home in compliance with applicable requirements, including having a valid background check, and meets the applicable Federal requirements for receiving foster care maintenance payments for the care of a child who is eligible for title IV-E foster care.
  • The child demonstrates a strong attachment to the prospective relative guardian, and that guardian has a strong commitment to providing permanent care for the child.
  • For a child who is at least age 14, the child has been consulted regarding the guardianship arrangement.
  • The prospective guardian has signed a title IV-E relative guardianship subsidy agreement.

A hard-to-place child with special needs who is in department custody and is not eligible for title IV-E adoption assistance is eligible for a State guardianship subsidy.

The department may determine, on a case-by-case basis, that a hard-to-place child with special needs who is not in department custody, and is not eligible for title IV-E adoption assistance is eligible for a State adoption or guardianship subsidy because of a hardship situation, including any of the following:

  • A sibling of the child has already been adopted by, or made a ward of, the family.
  • The family has highly specialized skills to meet the child's needs, and the lack of a subsidy would prevent the adoption or guardianship.

Links to Agency Policies

Child Protective Services Manual (PDF - 5,631 KB), see section 3.12

Alaska Resource Family Handbook (PDF - 2, 295 KB), see chapter 10