Legal guardianship is more durable but more complex than the transfer of custody to caregivers. Guardianship is most frequently used when relative caregivers wish to provide a permanent home for the child and maintain the child's relationships with extended family members without a termination of parental rights, as is required for an adoption. Guardianship is a strategy and permanency option that can help caregivers, including relatives, financially provide for a child without going through an adoption process. This permanency option promotes the preservation of family, community, and cultural ties and potentially reduces racial disproportionality and disparities in child welfare. Subsidized guardianships provide financial assistance to caregivers who assume legal guardianship of a child in out-of-home care. Several States are exploring using subsidized guardianship to achieve permanency for children and youth who are not being adopted or reunited with family. Use the following resources to learn more about guardianship and State and local examples of subsidized guardianship.
Adoption and Guardianship for Children in Foster Care
Provides information about adoption versus guardianship for children and how they differ. The brief also discusses State laws that impact them.
FAQ on Guardianship of Minor Children
Provides answers to frequently asked questions about guardianship and addresses how guardianship differs from adoption, reasons to become a guardian, and more.
Grandparents Should Seek Legal Custody or Guardianship
Describes guardianship for situations where grandparents are raising grandchildren, including why to consider legal guardianship, the rights of guardians, reasons children may be left in grandparent custody, and reasons grandparents may be reluctant to seek guardianship.
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Shares resources related to guardianship; a type of permanency most frequently used when caregivers want to provide a permanent home for a child while maintaining relationships with extended family members.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau (2019)
Offers information on the Children's Bureau's support of States and Tribes that have been approved to operate a title IV-E guardianship assistance program and provides additional resources on guardianship and kinship care.
Provides information and resources on guardianship assistance for grandparents and other caregivers.
Guardianship Assistance Policy and Implementation: A National Analysis of Federal and State Policies and Programs
Casey Family Programs (2018)
Summarizes differences in how guardianship programs are implemented in different States and offers recommendations on how to maximize the use of guardianship as a strategy to achieve stability and permanency for children. The resource reviews eligibility for guardianship assistance as well as fictive kin eligibility for funding.
Guardianship Information by State
Bridging Refugee Youth & Children’s Services
Explains the relevant terminology, type of court, website, and forms required to obtain legal guardianship in each State.
Bridging Refugee Youth & Children's Services
Provides resources for those assisting immigrant and refugee families who are caring for nonbiological children. The webpage also includes a searchable directory that provides basic information about the guardianship procedures in each State.
How Can Guardianship Be Better Utilized to Promote Permanency and Well-Being?
Casey Family Programs (2021)
Examines the positive impacts that guardianship can have on children and youth, such as maintained connections to family, reduced time to permanency, increased financial support, and improved overall well-being.
What Does It Mean to Be a Legal Guardian; Where Can I Find Information?
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau (2021)
Presents information about legal guardianship for caregivers, which gives legal rights, custody of the children, and the authority to make decisions concerning the protection, care, education, and more of the children.
Adoptions and Guardianship
Maryland Department of Human Services
Explains the difference between adoption and guardianship in Maryland and describes the process for obtaining legal guardianship of a child, subsidies provided, and more.
Reviews guardianship in Delaware, including who can be a guardian, the responsibilities of a legal guardian, the responsibilities of the child's parent after guardianship, and more.
Superior Court of California, Sacramento County
Describes guardianship in Sacramento County, California and discusses alternatives to guardianship, how to file for guardianship, and more.
Kinship Care and New Jersey's Revised Kinship Legal Guardianship Act
Advocates for Children of New Jersey
Summarizes the benefits of kinship care for children and discusses New Jersey's Kinship Legal Guardianship Act, which uses kinship as a pathway to an alternative type of permanency where the relative becomes the child's permanent guardian.
Legal Guardianship Policy (PDF - 581 KB)
West Virginia Department of Human Resources (2021)
Defines guardianship and discusses the legal basis for guardianship, eligibility, case planning and management, and more.
Shares a guardian information booklet for Vermont and discusses general guardianship information, fees, how to start a guardianship, and other information.
Quality Improvement Center for Adoption Guardianship Support and Preservation (QIC-AG)
Chronicles the implementation of the QIC-AG permanency continuum framework at eight partner sites around the country, including one Tribe. The videos include the personal accounts of the staff and families that participated in the implementation.
Subsidized Permanent Guardianship
Tennessee Department of Children's Services
Explains the benefits of subsidized guardianship and outlines how the guardianship process works, what to consider before becoming a guardian, what assistance is offered, and more.