Kinship Guardianship as a Permanency Option - South Carolina

Date:

Definitions

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-20

'Guardianship of a child' means the duty and authority vested in a person by the family court to make certain decisions regarding a child.

'Legal custody' means the right to the physical custody, care, and control of a child.

Purpose of Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-1700

The Department of Social Services may recommend legal custody or guardianship if, after assessing the viability of adoption, the department determines that termination of parental rights is not in the child's best interests.

A Guardian's Rights and Responsibilities

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-20

The guardian of a child has the duty and authority to make certain decisions regarding a child, including the following:

  • Consenting to a marriage, enlistment in the armed forces, and medical and surgical treatment
  • Representing a child in legal actions and making other decisions of substantial legal significance affecting a child
  • Holding the rights and responsibilities of legal custody when legal custody has not been vested by the court in another person, agency, or institution

The legal custodian has:

  • The right to the physical custody, care, and control of a child
  • The right to determine where the child shall live
  • The right and duty to provide protection, food, clothing, shelter, ordinary medical care, education, supervision, and discipline for a child and in an emergency to authorize surgery or other extraordinary care

Qualifying the Guardian

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63-7-1700; 63-7-2320; 63-7-2330; Code of Regs. § 114-550

A home study on the individual whom the department is recommending for custody of the child must be submitted to the court for consideration before custody or legal guardianship, or both, are awarded. The court may order a specified period of supervision and services not to exceed 12 months, and the court may authorize a period of visitation or trial placement prior to receiving a home study.

A person may become a kinship foster parent only upon the completion of a full kinship foster care licensing study performed in accordance with department rules and regulations. Residents of the household who are age 18 or older must undergo the State and Federal fingerprint review procedures as provided for in § 63-7-2340.

Notwithstanding the requirement that a relative licensed as a kinship foster parent must be licensed in accordance with the same requirements as nonrelative applicants, the department may waive, on a case-by-case basis, for relative applicants nonsafety elements as the department deems appropriate. Safety elements, such as criminal and child abuse and neglect background checks required by title IV-E of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 671(a)(20)(A), may not be waived.

Procedures for Establishing Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-1700

If after assessing the viability of adoption the department demonstrates that termination of parental rights is not in the child's best interests, the court may award custody or legal guardianship, or both, to a suitable, fit, and willing relative or nonrelative if the court finds this to be in the best interests of the child.

Contents of a Guardianship Order

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-20

The court may, in its order, place other rights and duties with the legal custodian. Unless otherwise provided by court order, the parent or guardian retains the right to make decisions of substantial legal significance affecting the child, including consent to a marriage, enlistment in the armed forces, and major nonemergency medical and surgical treatment; the obligation to provide financial support or other funds for the care of the child; and other residual rights or obligations as may be provided by order of the court.

Modification/Revocation of Guardianship

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Kinship Guardianship Assistance

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Links to Agency Policies

South Carolina Department of Social Services, Human Services Policy and Procedures Manual: