Grandfamilies: Subsidized Guardianship – Ohio
Overview: Subsidized Guardianship
Subsidized guardianship is an option that allows children to live permanently with grandparents and other relatives when they cannot live with their own parents and when adoption is not a viable option. Although they vary from state to state, in general subsidized guardianship programs are intended either to help children exit the child welfare system into safe and permanent homes with relatives, or to keep children from unnecessarily entering the system in the first place when they are already living safely with grandparents or other relatives. This option is available in some states to children whose caregivers have obtained legal guardianship or permanent custody through existing state laws. Subsidized guardianship provides grandparents and other relative caregivers with the legal authority to make important decisions on behalf of the children in their care without government intervention while providing critical funds to help meet the basic needs of the children when they cannot return home. Subsidized guardianship payments may be equal to the state foster care rate, the TANF rate, or somewhere in between.1
The states that have implemented subsidized guardianship programs recognize that in certain family situations, guardianship or permanent custody might be the best permanence option available when children cannot return home. Subsidized guardianship arrangements are particularly important for children raised by grandparents or other relatives because they:
- Enable families to maintain bonds with the birth parent(s) who may have a physical or mental disability that makes them unable to care safely for the children in their own home;
- Honor the wishes of many older children who may not wish to be adopted and/or to break ties with their birth parents;
- Allow birth parents who may one day be able to resume caregiving activities to regain custody of the child with the oversight and approval of the courts and/or child welfare agency;
- Respect the cultural norms existent in many cultures where terminating parental rights defies important societal norms of extended family and mutual interdependence;
- Provide the courts with the flexibility to limit or expand the legal guardian’s and parents’ authority as necessary to best serve the changing needs of individual children, their caregivers, and birth parents;
- Limit state oversight and intervention in the lives of grandparents and other relatives who are ready to care permanently for the children in their homes, for whom adoption and reunification have been ruled out, and who want to minimize the state’s ongoing role in their lives.2
Reprinted with the permission of Generations United. © 2008 Generations United.
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