Kinship Guardianship as a Permanency Option - South Dakota

Date: July 2018


Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 29A-1-201; 26-7A-19

The term 'guardian' means a person appointed by a court to be responsible for the personal affairs of a minor or protected person but excludes one who is merely a guardian ad litem.

The term 'relative' means an adult who is related to the child by blood, adoption, or marriage and who is the child's grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, nephew, great-grandparent, great-uncle, great-aunt, first cousin, second cousin, stepparent, or stepsibling.

The term 'custodian' means an adult who is the biological parent, adoptive parent, or guardian of the child's sibling or half-sibling.

Purpose of Guardianship

Citation: DSS Handbook

Situations may occur where a child is unable to return home and plans are developed for a family or individual to become the child's legal guardian.

A Guardian's Rights and Responsibilities

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

Qualifying the Guardian

Citation: DSS Handbook

Legal guardians can be relatives, foster care providers, or other adults who have a connection to or significant relationship with a child who are willing to accept legal responsibility.

Procedures for Establishing Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 26-7A-19.2; 29A-5-203; 26-8A-21.2

If a family service specialist employed by the Division of Child Protection Services within the department is contacted by a relative about the relative's desire to take temporary or permanent placement of an alleged or adjudicated abused or neglected child who has been removed from the child's parent, guardian, or custodian, the division shall document the contact in the child's file. The division shall send information to the relative within 5 business days informing the relative of the steps required in order for the relative to be considered for placement.

A petition for the appointment of a guardian may be filed by the minor, by an interested relative, by the individual or facility that is responsible for or has assumed responsibility for the minor's care or custody, by the individual or entity that the minor has nominated as guardian, or by any other interested person, including the Department of Human Services or the Department of Social Services (DSS).

At the permanency hearing, the court may determine that the child should be referred for legal guardianship or be placed permanently with a fit and willing relative.

Contents of a Guardianship Order

Citation: DSS Handbook

When a legal guardianship occurs, the court grants custody of the child to the guardian and DSS is no longer involved.

Modification/Revocation of Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 26-7A-101

Guardianship or conservatorship of a child under this chapter or chapter 26-8A, 26-8B, or 26-8C shall continue until the court orders otherwise but not after the child has attained the age of majority. The child or any person interested in the child may from time to time, upon a proper showing, apply to the court for the appointment of a new guardian or conservator; for the restoration of the child to the custody of the child's parents, if parental rights have not been terminated, or the child's former guardian or custodian; or for the discharge of the guardian or conservator appointed by the court at the final disposition of the child.

Kinship Guardianship Assistance

Citation: DSS Handbook

When a family or individual is granted guardianship of a child who was in the custody of DSS, a subsidy to care for the child may be available.

Links to Agency Policies

South Dakota Department of Social Services, DSS Handbook (PDF - 3,375 KB)