Grandfamilies: Subsidized Guardianship Programs (page 3)

— Generations United
Updated on Dec 16, 2008

What are the Desired Outcomes of Subsidized Guardianship?

Desired outcomes for implementing subsidized guardianship include:

  • Reducing use of long-term foster care by allowing children and youth— for whom reunification with birth parents or adoption have been ruled out — to achieve permanency in a safe and loving home.
  • Responding to the unique needs of grandfamilies by allowing them to permanently care for the children in their homes when adoption and reunification are not options. This is especially important when termination of parental rights is not in best interest of the children.
  • Reducing the overrepresentation of minority children in foster care and offering them an alternative that is more culturally acceptable. Both African American and Native American groups are among those disproportionately represented in the foster care system and both rely heavily on extended family for childrearing. Subsidized guardianships make it possible for caregiving family members to keep the children they are raising out of the system.
  • Providing another option in the continuum of permanency options available to family members, child welfare agencies, and court officials as they create permanency plans for children.
  • Allowing family members to be part of the decision making process about what is in the best interest of the child.
  • Encouraging agencies to promote other practice models that engage families including concurrent planning, family team decision making, and family group conferencing.10

Please see the State-by-State Table of Subsidized Guardianship Programs. This table includes the major criterion associated with each existing subsidized guardianship program. For more indepth information about subsidized guardianship programs, refer to the following publications:

Available at default.aspx:

  • Using Subsidized Guardianships to Improve Outcomes for Children: Key Questions to Consider, 2004, by Children’s Defense Fund and Cornerstone Consulting Group
  • State Subsidized Guardianship Laws at a Glance, 2004, by Children’s Defense Fund
  • Expanding Permanency Options for Children: A Guide to Subsidized Guardianship Programs, 2004, by Children’s Defense Fund and Cornerstone Consulting Group

Available at

  • Family Ties: Supporting Permanence for Children in Safe and Stable Foster Care With Relatives and Other Caregivers, 2004, by Fostering Results, Children and Family Research Center, School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign

Available at

  • Fostering the Future: Safety Permanence and Well-Being for Children in Foster Care, 2004, by The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care

In addition to the table and publications listed here, state websites are often good resources to consult for information about subsidized guardianship programs. Many states include specific information about such programs within their child welfare agencies’ or departments of social services’ websites, which are usually directly linked from state website homepages.


Children need safe and permanent families, and subsidized guardianship programs are a successful option that fulfills that need. These programs provide a permanent legal relationship between caregivers and children, while helping the children with an ongoing subsidy to help meet their basic needs. States that do not have subsidized guardianship programs can explore ways to develop their own, using the experiences of existing programs as a starting point.

One of the major barriers to the creation of subsidized guardianship programs is the lack of funding. However, there are various proposals for new ways to use existing funding sources for subsidized guardianship programs. The nonpartisan Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, in its 2004 report, Fostering the Future: Safety, Permanence and Well-Being for Children in Foster Care, has recommended that states have the option to use federal Title IV-E funds for subsidized guardianship programs. Furthermore, as states increasingly recognize the important role relative caregivers are playing for children both in and outside of the system, many national organizations have joined the states in support of subsidized guardianship programs that strengthen permanent and self-sustaining relationships for children. Generations United (GU), the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), National Governor’s Association (NGA), National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), and others support various legislative proposals that would allow states to use federal funds, such as Title IV-E funds, to establish or expand subsidized guardianship programs.14

For up-to-date information about pending legislation affecting subsidized guardianships, visit Generations United’s website at

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