Legal guardianship is more durable but more complex than 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. Caregivers can assume legal guardianship of a child in out-of-home care without termination of parental rights, as is required for an adoption. Subsidized guardianships provide financial assistance to caregivers who assume legal guardianship of a child in out-of-home care. A number of States are exploring subsidized guardianship as a means to achieving permanency for children and youth who are not being adopted or reunited with family. The following resources can be helpful to learn more about guardianship and State and local examples of subsidized guardianship.
Duties of a Guardian
California Courts (2017)
Outlines the role and responsibilities of legal guardians, including financial and personal obligations.
Grandfamilies: Legal Issues
Generations United (2016)
Reviews the important legal steps necessary in obtaining legal guardianship in informal kinship caregiver situations.
Guardianship Information by State
Bridging Refugee Youth & Children’s Services (2017)
Explains the relevant terminology, type of court, website, and forms required to obtain legal guardianship in each State.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau
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.
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.
Making It Work: Using the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) to Close the Permanency Gap for Children in Foster Care (PDF - 1,690 KB)
Children's Defense Fund, Child Trends, American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, Casey Family Programs, Child Focus, & Generations United (2012)
Examines the key elements and challenges of title IV-E GAP and best practices in States implementing GAP.
The Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP): An Update on Implementation and Moving GAP Forward (PDF - 211 KB)
Children's Defense Fund (2015)
Presents a follow-up survey of the jurisdictions included in Making It Work to see if and how children were benefiting from GAP.
Paths to Permanence: Kin Guardianship and Adoption (PDF - 660 KB)
Adoption Advocate, 59
Examines the benefits of kin guardianship and adoption for children in care.
Subsidized Guardianship – Summary & Analysis
Provides a summary of the provisions of Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, which is the most significant child welfare law in the last 15 years. The Act gives all States the option to use funds through Federal title IV-E of the Social Security Act to finance guardianship assistance programs.
Are Subsidized Guardianships Making a Positive Difference for Kids? Early Evidence From the Field (PDF - 496 KB)
Center for Public Policy Priorities (2012)
Explores whether subsidized guardianship placement payments in Texas increased overall permanent placements with relatives or led to a shift from adoption to legal guardianship.
Federal Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program State Policies and Laws (PDF - 295 KB)
Identifies the guardianship assistance available in each State.
Guide to Kinship Legal Guardianship Support Services (PDF - 978 KB)
New Jersey Department of Children and Families (2016)
Provides information on supports for kinship caregivers in New Jersey, including topics such as financial assistance, health care, education, behavioral and/or emotional challenges, and disabilities.
Handbook for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children (PDF - 5,755 KB)
San Diego County Board of Supervisors (2015)
Defines the status and role of relative caregivers in California. This resource also points to available resources to help relatives raising children in their care.
Indiana Department of Child Services Child Welfare Manual (PDF - 239 KB)
Indiana Department of Child Services (2015)
Offers information to help understand and determine the financial assistance available through the Guardianship Assistance Program for eligible children and their families.
Kinship Caregivers Guide: A Guide for Adults Who Are Caring for the Children of Relatives or Family Friends (PDF - 1,249 KB)
Vermont Agency of Human Services, Department for Children and Families (2017)
Provides information about the financial and personal assistance available to kinship caregivers in Vermont.
Economic Stability: Kinship Care Subsidy Program
Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (2017)
Clarifies the eligibility requirements and how to obtain funds from the two financial assistance programs provided by the State of Louisiana.
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 issues and concerns that families may face, what to take into consideration, and how the program may assist you.