Effective Date: 5-1-19
Guardianship is a permanency option for children for whom reunification or adoption is not feasible. In Missouri, orders of guardianship are entered by the Probate Court. Guardianship requires the caretaker to assume a high level of responsibility and authority over the child. Once guardianship is awarded by the probate court, the Division’s legal responsibility for case management services is terminated. However, with the passage of H.R. 6893: Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, youth who enter guardianship after the age of 16 are eligible for Chafee Foster Care Independence Program Services and these services must be monitored.
This plan has limited application, and should be selected under the following circumstances:
- The Family Support Team has determined that family reunification is not likely in the foreseeable future and termination of parental rights is deemed inappropriate
- Adoption is not an option
- Current placement provider is able to meet the needs of the child including financial
- Current placement is stable
- The child’s caretaker family is willing to pursue guardianship
- The child, if over 14 years of age, consents
- The juvenile court having jurisdiction supports guardianship as an option and is willing to terminate its jurisdiction when such is granted
- The child’s Family Support Team is supportive of plan for guardianship.
There are two forms of guardianship available to caretakers interested in this permanency option for children. The first is guardianship by a qualified relative or a qualified close nonrelated person in accordance with 453.072 RSMo. Qualified individuals achieving guardianship may be eligible for guardianship subsidy through the Children’s Division. The second form of guardianship is guardianship – no subsidy. Staff are encouraged to discuss these options with caretakers interested in legal guardianship and to explain the eligibility criteria for subsidy benefits. Staff will also have the responsibility for entering information into FACES appropriately as there will be two options available for guardianship in the placement section of FACES. These two options include guardianship-subsidy and guardianship-no subsidy.
As used in this section and defined by 453.072 RSMo: Relative means any grandparent, aunt, uncle, adult sibling of the child or adult first cousin of the child, or any other person related to the child by blood or affinity; Close nonrelated person means any nonrelated person whose life is so intermingled with the child such that the relationship is similar to a family relationship.
A priority should be made to place siblings together, whenever possible. CD must make reasonable efforts to place siblings in the same placement unless doing so would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings.
Children who are 16 years of age or older at the time of the guardianship are eligible for Chafee older youth services, even after the Guardianship is completed. These services shall be monitored by the family subsidy worker.
The Division’s legal relationship, as well as services and foster care payments to the child/family, would terminate once guardianship is established. However, support services may continue as needed/desired and available, such as guardianship subsidy.
Note: Adult Guardianships and Conservatorships are not the same as these types of guardianships and are considered for children between 18 and 21 who have a permanency goal of APPLA.
Procedures for Pursuing Guardianship:
Discuss prospects of guardianship with the Family Support Team including the child, if age appropriate, birth parent(s) and caretaker(s). If guardianship appears a viable option, the caretaker family should be directed to consult with legal counsel.
Once the case plan has changed to guardianship, the Children’s Service Worker responsible for case management should notify the Children’s Service Worker responsible for the subsidy immediately to ensure that the subsidy worker has time to negotiate the Legal Guardianship subsidy agreement prior to the award of guardianship.
The Children’s Service Worker responsible for the subsidy has the responsibility to meet with the prospective guardian to discuss services available through guardianship subsidy, including the option to name a successor guardian at the time of the initial subsidy agreement or any amendments thereafter.
- For the prospective guardian to be eligible for guardianship subsidy, they must be a qualified relative of the child or a qualified close nonrelated person.
- The caretaker family also must comply with all licensing requirements including training, background checks and the home study process.
Procedures for Closing Case
The following procedures are required by the Children’s Service Worker after the court has issued an Order for Guardianship and the family will not receive a guardianship subsidy:
- Close necessary functions in FACES such as service authorizations and KIDS account.
- Ensure all case information in FACES is accurate and updated.
- Place copy of Order for Guardianship in case record.