Kinship Guardianship as a Permanency Option - Illinois

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Definitions

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 705, §§ 405/1-3; 405/2-27

The term 'legal custody' means the relationship created by a court order in the best interests of the child that imposes on the custodian the responsibility of physical possession of a child and the duty to protect, train, and discipline the child and to provide him or her with food, shelter, education, and ordinary medical care, except as these are limited by residual parental rights and responsibilities and the rights and responsibilities of the guardian of the person, if any.

The term 'subsidized guardianship' means a private guardianship arrangement for children for whom the permanency goals of returning home and adoption have been ruled out and who meet the qualifications for subsidized guardianship as defined by the Department of Children and Family Services in administrative rules.

Purpose of Guardianship

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 315.230

Private guardianship may be selected as the permanency goal when the reunification goal and the adoption goal have been ruled out as permanency goals for the child, but the child resides with a relative or foster home caregiver with whom the child has formed an emotional attachment and who is willing to accept legal responsibility for the child and assume a commitment to a permanent relationship that meets the child's needs over time.

A Guardian's Rights and Responsibilities

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 705, § 405/1-3

A person who is granted guardianship of a child has the duty and authority to act in the best interests of the child. Subject to residual parental rights and responsibilities, he or she can make important decisions in matters having a permanent effect on the life and development of the child. The guardian assumes the authority and responsibility for the child's general welfare, and that may include, but is not necessarily limited to the following:

  • The authority to consent to marriage; enlistment in the armed forces of the United States; or major medical, psychiatric, and surgical treatment
  • The authority to represent the child in legal actions and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the minor
  • The authority and duty of reasonable visitation, except to the extent that these have been limited in the best interests of the child by court order
  • The rights and responsibilities of legal custody except where legal custody has been vested in another person or agency
  • The power to consent to the adoption of the child, but only if that authority has been expressly conferred on the guardian by the court

Qualifying the Guardian

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 302.410

Prior to approving a guardianship arrangement for a child, the department shall determine whether guardianship is in the best interests of the child. In making this determination, the department shall consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to:

  • The wishes of the child's prospective guardian and the guardian's demonstrated ability to provide care that meets the special needs of the child, if any
  • The wishes of the child who is under age 14 or the consent of the child who is older than age 14
  • The interaction and interrelationship between the child and the prospective guardian
  • The child's adjustment to the present home, school, and community
  • The child's need for stability and continuity of relationship with the prospective guardian
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved

The department shall ensure that the guardianship arrangement is a safe and suitable placement by means of safety checks, including criminal history and child abuse and neglect registry checks.

Procedures for Establishing Guardianship

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 705, § 405/2-27

If the court determines that the parents of a child who is a ward of the court are unfit or are unable to care for, protect, train, or discipline the child or are unwilling to do so, for some reason other than financial circumstances alone, and that the health, safety, and best interests of the child will be jeopardized if he or she remains in the custody of his or her parents, the court may place the child in the custody of a suitable relative or other person as legal custodian or guardian or, with the approval of the Department of Children and Family Services, place the child in the subsidized guardianship of a suitable relative or other person as legal guardian.

The court also shall consider whether, based on health, safety, and the best interests of the child:

  • Appropriate services aimed at family preservation and family reunification have been unsuccessful in rectifying the conditions that have led to a finding of unfitness or inability to care for, protect, train, or discipline the child.
  • No family preservation or family reunification services would be appropriate.

Upon a determination, established by clear and convincing evidence, that the parent is an unfit person, the court shall, when appropriate and in the best interests of the child, enter an order terminating parental rights and appointing a guardian with power to consent to adoption.

Contents of a Guardianship Order

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 705, § 405/2-27

The clerk of the court shall issue a certified copy of the order of court to the legal custodian or guardian of the person, as proof of his or her authority. No other process is necessary as authority for the keeping of the child.

Modification/Revocation of Guardianship

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 705, § 405/2-27

Custody or guardianship granted under this section continues until the court directs otherwise.

Kinship Guardianship Assistance

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 325, § 42/10; Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 302.410

The Kinship Navigator shall be statewide and coordinated among the Department of Human Services, Department on Aging, Illinois Housing Authority, Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Corrections, and Federal and local governments, as well as other public and private sources.

Additional services provided under the Kinship Navigator shall include organizing diverse and culturally conscious kinship support groups and counseling; assisting with applying for benefits for those who qualify; publishing monthly newsletters; coordinating respite and crisis care services; assisting kinship caregivers with job readiness, job search, and job retention; and providing technical assistance to start up kinship support groups.

In regulation: The subsidized guardianship program provides assistance payments to grandparents and other relatives who have assumed the legal guardianship of children for whom they have cared as a licensed foster parent and for whom they have committed to care on a permanent basis.

For a child to qualify for a federally funded subsidized guardianship, the following criteria must be met:

  • The child has been removed from his or her home pursuant to a voluntary placement agreement or as a result of a judicial determination that continuation in the home would be contrary to the child's welfare.
  • The child must be eligible for foster care maintenance payments while residing for at least 6 consecutive months in the home of a licensed prospective relative guardian immediately prior to the establishment of the guardianship.
  • Being returned home or adopted are not appropriate permanency options for the child.
  • The child demonstrates a strong attachment to the prospective relative guardian and the relative guardian has a strong commitment to caring permanently for the child.
  • If the child is at least age 14, the child has been consulted and has agreed to the guardianship arrangement.

Links to Agency Policies

Illinois Administrative Code, Title 89, § 302.410