Grandfamilies: Subsidized Guardianship Programs
What is a subsidized guardianship?
Subsidized guardianship is an increasingly popular permanency option that provides an ongoing financial subsidy to eligible children who exit the child welfare system into the permanent care of a legal guardian, often a grandparent or other relative. These programs are available in 35 states and the District of Columbia, and vary significantly. They recognize that in certain family situations, guardianship or legal custody is the best permanency option when children cannot return home or be adopted.
Who are the Grandfamilies?
“Grandfamilies” are families in which grandparents or other relatives are primarily responsible for caring for children who live with them. Parental substance abuse, military deployment, incarceration, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and death are just some of the reasons causing these grandfamilies to come together.
- 125,668 children in foster care are being raised by a grandparent or other relative.1
- At least 20,000 foster children are in foster care without a goal of adoption or reunification with their parents and could exit foster care if subsidized guardianship was available to them.2
- Almost six million children across the country are living in households headed by grandparents or other relatives.3
- About 4.4 million of these children are in grandparent-headed households, and another 1.5 million live in households headed by other relatives, such as aunts or uncles.4
- Approximately 2.4 million grandparents are responsible for most of the basic needs of the children. Unfortunately similar Census data does not exist for the other relatives.5 • Although the number of households where other relatives are responsible for children is unknown, we do know that almost half of the children in grandfamilies (2.5 million) have no parents in the home.6
How Does Subsidiezed Guardianship Benefit Children?
Subsidized guardianship arrangements are particularly important for children raised in grandfamilies, or families in which grandparents or other relatives have primary responsibility for caring for children. Guardianships would:
- honor the wishes of many children who may not want to be adopted and/or break ties with their birth parents;
- respect cultures in which adoption and termination of parental rights defy important societal norms of extended family and mutual interdependence;
- limit state oversight and intervention in the lives of children for whom adoption and reunification with the birth parents have been ruled out, and minimize the state’s ongoing role in their lives;
- give caregivers the necessary legal decision-making authority for children, including the ability to consent to routine activities such as field trips, sleepovers, and school pictures.
Reprinted with the permission of Generations United. © 2008 Generations United.
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