Fostering Connections Resource Center

Pennsylvania's Guardianship Assistance Program

Pennsylvania’s state plan amendment for guardianship approved

In 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s Office of Children, Youth and Families received approval from the federal government for its state plan amendment for the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP).  Pennsylvania previously ran a state program, called Subsidized Permanent Legal Custodianship (SPLC), which will now be able to claim Title IV-E funding to support children who move to permanent homes with relatives as of April 1, 2009.

Pennsylvania was one of three states whose state plan amendment was approved in the first half of 2009.  The state worked diligently to ensure that its program and policy requirements were consistent with the federal law.  This required refining their guardianship agreement, as well as developing a comprehensive policy bulletin to guide local implementation. One area that required attention was the federal requirement for a child to live in a caregiver’s home for six consecutive months prior to establishing guardianship, which had not been a requirement for their state program.  Pennsylvania’s federal GAP program also uses a stricter definition of relative than their state program.  Families who do not have a blood relationship to the child – as well as those who are not Title IV-E eligible – can still be covered for SPLC under the state program.

Pennsylvania officials also wanted to ensure that benefits for the guardianship option are not more generous than those available for adoption.  They carefully reviewed the benefits of both SPLC and adoption to ensure that adoption continues to be a meaningful option for children, youth, and families when reunification has been ruled out.   The subsidies for guardianship adoption are consistent with what a child received while in foster care.

Pennsylvania will monitor local implementation of GAP as part of its overall approach to promoting permanency for youth in foster care.  Their new continuous quality improvement (CQI) system will include interviews with families to ensure they felt they had all the information they needed to make an informed decision about permanency options.   This CQI system will be piloted in several counties this year and be refined for statewide implementation in the future.

Click here to see Pennsylvania's Legal Custodian Policy


The Fostering Connections Resource Center gratefully acknowledges the Children's Defense Fund and ChildFocus for providing this and other summaries of state approaches related to the kinship or guardianship provisions.

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