Subsidized Guardianship Law and Legal Definition

Subsidized guardianship is the transfer of legal responsibility for a minor child from the state to a private caregiver or guardian, who is provided with a monthly subsidy for the care and support of the child. The transfer of legal responsibility removes the child from the child welfare system, allows a caregiver to make important decisions on the child's behalf, and creates a long-term caregiver for the child. Guardianship or legal custody is the best permanency option when children cannot return home or be adopted. However, reunification with the parents and/or adoption must be ruled out before guardianship is considered as the best permanency option.

In U.S, Subsidized Guardianship programs are available in 35 states and the District of Columbia. These 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. The court that considers the guardianship or legal custody reviews the existing placement and, the child’s opinion, where the child is old enough to give it. Many states require that the child should have an established attachment to the prospective guardian and that the prospective guardian evidences a “strong commitment” to the child. If the court finds that guardianship is in the “best interest” of the child and grants it, the state no longer has custody. After guardianship is granted, the state issues a monthly subsidy check to the guardian for the care of the child.