Policy 101: Relatives as Guardians

In most states, relatives and others who become permanent, legal guardians for a child in foster care lose federal financial assistance and services once the child exits foster care (as opposed to most foster placements and many adoptions, which receive federal support).

Although some relatives decide to adopt their kin, adoption is not the right choice for others. For example, it may not be appropriate to terminate parental rights for a parent with significant disabilities who physically cannot parent, but wants to remain in the lives of the children who love her. Or an older youth who maintains close ties with his or her birth parents may not want those parental rights terminated.

An estimated 15,000 children living in long-term arrangements with relatives today could leave foster care if federal foster care funds could be used to support guardianship. Relevant Legislation:

* The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (H.R. 6893) * The Kinship Caregiver Support Act (S. 661/ H.R. 2188)

* The Fostering Connections to Success Act (H.R. 6307) * The Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act of 2008 (S. 3038)