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Increase Exits from Foster Care to Permanence through Guardianship

Strategies Success Stories

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Opportunities Act allows states to use federal Title IV-E dollars for subsidies to families who assume guardianship of children in foster care.  This legislation is a significant step forward for children who can not return home or be adopted and builds on many years of state experimentation and success at helping children leave foster care to strong and stable families and achieving cost savings.  It is particularly important for children of color who are more likely to be living with relatives in foster care and older youth who do not want to be adopted.    

What Can Policymakers Do?

  • Set adequate subsidy and benefit levels so that relative caregivers can meet the needs of children who have been abused and neglected. California enhanced its Kin-GAP subsidy to benefit children living with guardians.[i]  See more information on this strategy.
  • Ensure that cost savings can be retained for child welfare purposes so that savings can be reinvested into unmet child welfare needs.  Illinois included a provision for reinvestment of cost savings from their guardianship waiver in its Terms and Conditions that was signed by the Governor.[ii] 
  • Require child welfare agencies to fully inform caregivers about guardianship Connecticut statute[iii] requires dissemination of information about subsidized guardianship to all prospective guardians.[iv]  Policymakers can also require that prospective guardians receive information providing clear information about the differences between guardianship and adoption.
  • Require data-driven reports to the legislature as new programs are established and existing programs are changed so that improvements can be made as the new federal legislation is implemented. California required a report to the legislature on the outcomes of the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program.[v]   

[i] 2006Cal.Stats.,AB 1808, Chap. 75.

[ii] Terms and Conditions between the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Health and Human Services for the Subsidized Guardianship Waiver (2003), amendments for the enhanced subsidized guardianship program, Section 2.6.

[iii] Conn. Gen. Stat., Sec. 17a-126(b)

[iv] Allen, MaryLee, Bissell, Mary and Miller, Jennifer (2003).  Expanding Permanency Options for Children: A Guide to Subsidized Guardianship.  Children’s Defense Fund and Cornerstone Consulting Group, p.24.  Available online.

[v] Assembly Bill 1111

[vi] Testa, Mark (2008), Subsidized Guardianship: Testing the Effectiveness of an Idea Whose Time Has Finally Come.  Children and Family Research Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Available online.


In Illinois, children who received subsidized guardianship remained in foster care an average of 209 fewer days than other children.  As a result, the waiver yielded the state an average administrative savings of $2,294 per child. Wisconsin’s subsidized guardianship waiver also show reductions in foster care days for children in the demonstration.

Guidance                for Child Welfare Administrators. Policies and practices to address the racial disproportionality and disparities in state and local child welfare systems.