Fostering Connections Resource Center

Oregon's Guardianship Assistance Program

Oregon's State Plan amendment for the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) was approved in July 2010 and will cover eligible children beginning January 2011. The program builds on the state's federal child welfare waiver that allowed eligible children living with relatives and those residing with non-relatives with a significant emotional relationship, to exit foster care for guardianship when they could not return home or be adopted. The GAP program is seen as a way to extend a more stable permanency arrangement for youth for whom adoption and return home were not assessed as appropriate permanency goals.

Oregon's decision to move forward with a state plan amendment for GAP hinged in part on the ability to keep children for whom adoption is not an appropriate option connected to their extended family and kin. Oregon has also taken steps to strengthen relative placement practices for substitute care and permanency, to include broadening the Administrative Rule definition of a relative. The expanded policy definition includes blood relatives, those who had an emotionally significant relationship with the child before they came into state custody, and foster parents with whom the child has resided at least 12 months when there is documentation that there are compelling reasons why adoption is not possible and a Permanency Committee has recommended the foster parent as a guardian. This definition also ensures that tribal definitions of relative are incorporated into the policy and that all the children who were eligible for guardianship under Oregon's waiver will continue to be covered in the federal program. Siblings who would otherwise be ineligible are also able to fall under the Oregon GAP provided they are placed in the guardianship with an otherwise eligible child. Oregon is not able to offer guardianship to non Title IV-E eligible children at this time. 

At the same time Oregon was implementing its GAP program, there was an initiative to restructure and raise foster care rates. This initiative included the addition of a Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment for indicated children that could result in an additional enhanced supervision rate to foster parents for management of extraordinary behavioral issues. Rate Redesign, as it has been called, impacted adoption assistance (AA) and guardianship assistance rates. GAP design and Rate Redesign provided a good opportunity to bring Oregon's adoption and guardianship assistance practices into better alignment with each other and with federal regulations for negotiation of subsidy assistance up to the amount of foster care the child would receive. Alignment included offering the CANS assessment for initial negotiation and renegotiation of AA and GAP, up until the time a child turns 18. Oregon has also written its GAP policies to make guardianship assistance agreements consistent with the federal language requiring states to offer families up to $2,000 for the legal and other non-recurring costs associated with establishing a guardianship.

For More on Oregon's Guardianship Assistance Program, see

  • Guardianship Assistance Policy
  • Engaging Relatives Rule
  • Guardianship Assistance Agreement: This is currently being revised and will be on-line soon.


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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