(50PlusPrime) EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN --
When grandparents and other relatives take on the care of children in the family, many do so with the hopes of the parents resuming their roles after resolving issues that prevented them for becoming effective parents.
Many grandparents choose to file for guardianship to allow them to make critical decisions on behalf of the children in their care and allow parents to still have rights to their children.
In August 2008, Michigan passed a Subsidized Guardianship bill (SB-170) for families. SB-170 will provide a monthly stipend to grandparents, other relatives, and caregivers who choose to file for guardianship on behalf of a child in foster care. This monthly stipend will be equal to the rate of foster care for the children in their care.
The following information is from Generations United, the national membership organization focused solely on improving the lives of children, youth, and older people through intergenerational strategies, programs, and public policies.
“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 (June, 2006).”
How Does Subsidized 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.
• 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
What Are The Eligibility Requirements For Subsidized Guardianship?
Subsidized guardianship programs differ from state to state. The programs’ names, eligibility guidelines, subsidy amounts, funding sources, and numbers of children served each vary. However, subsidized guardianships are generally designed for those children who have been in state custody, with a relative or non-relative providing the care, for at least six months and in some states up to two years. The caregiver of the child must first obtain guardianship or legal custody.
After guardianship is granted, the state issues a monthly subsidy check to the guardian for the care of the child…The amount of the subsidy varies. It is usually less than or equal to the basic state foster care rate, but usually more than the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or “welfare” child-only grant, and continued eligibility for the subsidy is typically re-determined annually. The subsidy payments usually end when the guardianship terminates or when the child turns 18, although several states continue the subsidy until the child reaches age 21 or 22 provided he or she is attending school full-time or has an emotional or physical disability or other special need.
Are There Any Exceptions To The Eligibility Requirements?
There are some exceptions to these general eligibility requirements. For instance, although most states require children to have been in the state foster care system, a few states offer subsidized guardianships for children outside of the system so they do not have to enter it unnecessarily.
Some states limit participation in their subsidized guardianship programs to children with “special needs. The definition varies, but may include those who are difficult to place because of physical or emotional disabilities, race or ethnic background, age, and/or because they are members of a sibling group. A few states require that a child’s income and assets be considered in order to qualify for a subsidized guardianship and/or to determine the payment amount. Both Kentucky and Louisiana allow a child to begin receiving subsidy payments before the guardianship or custody arrangement is finalized. Most states offer subsidized guardianships to eligible children living with all types of caregivers who have chosen to care for them permanently, including relatives, family friends, foster parents, and other qualified adults.
However, some states limit eligibility to children who are living with kin, which is often defined as “relatives and non-related individuals with a close family-like bond to the child.” More restrictive programs limit eligibility to blood relatives within a specified degree of relationship, including grandparents, great-grandparents, stepparents, siblings, step-siblings, half-siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, and great aunts and uncles. A few states limit their enrollment to eligible children being raised by their grandparents. Rhode Island limits enrollment to children being raised by non-relatives.
To find more information about subsidized guardianship in your state, visit Generations United at: