Section 4, Chapter 9 (Adoption and Guardianship Process), Subsection 5 – Guardianship Planning Process

Effective Date:  5-1-19


Guardianship is a permanency option for those children where neither family reunification nor adoption is feasible or appropriate and the caretaker family is willing to assume a greater level of responsibility and authority over the child. This goal is to be used when a caregiver plans to become the guardian of a child under the age of 18. 

As like adoption the priority should be 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.

Persons interested in serving as a child’s guardian must file a petition in probate court in accordance with chapter 475, RSMo. If the court makes a determination that the child is a minor or incapable of caring for himself and managing his affairs, a guardian is appointed. The guardian becomes legally responsible and obligated to take care of the child. The guardian must make all necessary decisions regarding the child’s affairs including medical care, education and finances. Also, the guardian is under a duty to provide the child with necessary food, clothing and shelter. The guardian is directly supervised by and answerable to the court which granted the petitioner’s request for guardianship.

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.

There are two forms of guardianship available to caretakers interested in this permanency option for children. The first is guardianship by a qualified individual. 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 is 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 for guardianship in the placement section of FACES.

Guidelines for Assessing Guardianship

Guardianship should be considered for a child only after both reunification and adoption have been ruled out as feasible options. This option is for children who are under the age of 18 and have an identified caregiver willing to pursue the legal course of Guardianship. If a child has a plan that involves an adult guardianship or conservatorship, the child’s permanency goal is considered to be APPLA (and the child must be 16 years of age or older).

A comparison chart has been developed to help facilitate discussion during Family Support Team Meetings regarding the difference between adoption and guardianship. The chart can be found on e-forms listed as Adoption and Guardianship Comparison.


  1. The Family Support Team has determined that family reunification is not likely in the foreseeable future and termination of parental rights is deemed inappropriate;
  2. Adoption is not an option ;
  3. Current placement provider is able to meet the needs of the child including financial;
  4. Current placement is stable;
  5. The child’s caretaker family is willing to pursue guardianship;
  6. The child, if over 14 years of age, consents;
  7. The juvenile court having jurisdiction supports guardianship as an option and is willing to terminate its jurisdiction when such is granted; and
  8. The child’s Family Support Team is supportive of plan for guardianship. 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.

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
    1. 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.
      1. A Relative is a grandparent or any other person related to another by blood or affinity or a person who is not so related to the child but has a close relationship with the child or the child’s family;
      2. Close nonrelated person, is defined as any nonrelated person whose life is so intermingled with the child such that the relationship is similar to a family relationship.
    2. The caretaker family also must comply with all licensing requirements including training, background checks and the home study process.
  • Once a petition for guardianship has been filed, write a letter of recommendation with rationale to probate court and juvenile court and coordinate with courts, if separate, to ensure child is not without a legal custodian during the transition; and
  • Continue with services as needed or desired by family and available through agency. Children age 16 and older are eligible to continue Chafee services once the guardianship is completed.

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:

  1. Close necessary functions in FACES such as service authorizations and KIDS account.
  2. Ensure all case information in FACES is accurate and updated.
  3. Place copy of Order for Guardianship in record.
  4. Send family letter advising the case has been closed and offering services if needed by the family in the future.

Guardianship Placement Support 

Supporting a guardianship takes coordination of services and systems designed to help maintain the stability of the placement as well as assisting the family through fiscal benefits.

Chafee Services

Youth, age 16 and older, are eligible to continue Chafee services once the guardianship is completed. Please refer to Chapter 5 of this section.

Family Resource Centers

Missouri Resource Parents have the benefit of having Family Resource Center services available. The motivation for these centers is the prevention of disruption in a child’s placement and support to resource families. The centers utilize local and regional partnerships with other agencies providing similar services to maximize the funds available and avoid duplication or gaps in services.

Successor Guardian

A successor guardian is a person(s) named in the guardianship agreement or amendment who becomes the alternative legal guardian in the event the legal guardian’s death or physically or mentally incapacitation to the point they can no longer care for the child(ren).

At the time of initial negotiation of the agreement, staff must discuss and advise the guardian(s) the option to name a successor guardian in the agreement. If the guardian(s) dies or is physically or mentally incapacitated and a successor guardian is not named in the agreement, the child may not be eligible to receive guardianship assistance payments in a subsequent guardianship. If after being advised of the option of naming a successor guardian, the guardian(s) elect not to exercise the option, staff shall document this refusal in the narrative section of the subsidy file. However, the guardians may name a successor guardian or change the named successor at any time the current agreement is active in their name.

To assist in this discussion, the Successor Guardian Information letter (CD-222), may be given to the family. This letter may be given to the family, completed, signed and placed in the file. Once completed, this letter should be retained as documentation this discussion occurred and the option was given.

The successor guardian must be able to pass all background screenings required by the Children’s Division and the courts. Children who have a subsequent guardianship because of the incapacitation or the death of their guardian(s) may be eligible for assistance under Title IV-E or Missouri funded subsidy in a subsequent guardianship if:


  • They were previously eligible and the successor guardian was named in the agreement or
  • They are placed in the legal custody of the Children’s Division and a new IV-E eligibility determination is completed prior to the establishment of a subsequent guardianship.

Fingerprints for successor guardian

CD will assume financial responsibility for fingerprints to be completed on the named Successor Guardians in the child’s LG agreement at the time it is determined they will be assuming guardianship of the child. The fingerprints are to be completed at the time the named successor guardian is planning to petition the court to assume guardianship and prior to an approval in FACES being entered.

In the event the named successor guardian’s fingerprint results indicate they have a felony conviction for one of the crimes which makes them an ineligible placement for subsidy funding a subsequent LG agreement may not be negotiated.

Staff may not approve the adoption or guardianship subsidy application of any person in which a record check has revealed a felony conviction for child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, a crime against children (including child pornography), or a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery was determined by a court of competent jurisdiction. Staff may also not approve the application of any person who in the past five years has had a court of competent jurisdiction determine a felony conviction for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense. Refer to Section 6.