When a child is not able to safely remain at home with their parents, or adopted, permanent guardianship with a family or like-family member who is willing and able to provide care for the child, is the next best alternative. Permanent guardianship allows the child to live with people they already know and trust.
Guardianship – At-Risk Youth
Legal guardianship is more durable but more complex than the transfer of custody to caregivers.
Guardianship is most frequently used when relative caregivers wish to provide a permanent home for the child and maintain the child’s relationships with extended family members without termination of parental rights, as is required for an adoption. Guardianship is a strategy and permanency option that can help caregivers, including relatives, financially provide for a child without going through an adoption process.
This permanency option promotes the preservation of family, community, and cultural ties and potentially reduces racial disproportionality and disparities in child welfare. Subsidized guardianships provide financial assistance to caregivers who assume legal guardianship of a child in out-of-home care.
Legal guardianship for an adult child
While guardianship ceases to be an issue for typical children as they reach adulthood (age 18, in most states), for individuals with special needs the role of guardian (or alternatives to guardianship) takes on even greater importance. When a child reaches age 18, if appropriate, their parent (or parents) must apply for legal guardianship to be able to make decisions on behalf of their adult child. Here are the typical types of guardianships, please note these may vary from state to state.
What are the key roles and responsibilities of a guardian for an adult child?
A Guardian’s duties will vary depending on the adult’s abilities and limitations, but generally will include the following:
1-Ensure the adult’s living situation is safe and appropriate (least restrictive environment)
2-Provide for the adult’s everyday basic needs and safety
3-Make ordinary medical care decisions and arrange for needed treatment
4-Provide for the social, educational, recreational, and future needs of the adult
5-Apply for health insurance and other benefits, if needed
6-Advocate for the adult’s legal rights and independence