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Deborah Burrus, State Permanency Director, GA Division of Family and Children Services, presents information about legal guardianship and how it differs from adoption.

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  1. 1. Georgia Division of Family and Children Services Presenter: Deborah Burrus State Permanency Director September 30, 2015
  2. 2. Permanency Plan The Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) shall identify the permanency plan for each child within thirty (30) days of the child’s entry into foster care
  3. 3. Order of Preference for Permanency Plan 1. Reunification 2. Adoption 3. Permanent Guardianship 4. Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA
  4. 4. Although “Permanent Placement with a Fit and Willing Relative” is a permanency option outlined in the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), effective 01/01/14, Georgia no longer recognizes it as a permanent placement for a child.
  5. 5. Reasonable Efforts DFCS shall obtain a judicial determination regarding “reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan” at each permanency plan hearing, but no later than twelve (12) months
  6. 6. GUARDIANSHIP • DFCS defines legal guardianship as a judicially created relationship between the child and • relative/non-relative caregiver which is intended to be permanent and self-sustaining as • evidenced by the transfer to the relative/non-relative of the following parental rights with respect • to the child: • 1. Protection; • 2. Education; • 3. Care and control of the person; • 4. Guardianship of the person; and • 5. Decision making.
  7. 7. Guardianship • For children in foster care, permanent guardianship would be granted by the Juvenile Court. • The guardianship order establishes a permanent guardian and outlines the permanent guardian’s rights and responsibilities concerning the care, custody and control of a child.
  8. 8. GUARDIANSHIP Permanent guardianship is possible when: 1. Reasonable efforts to reunify the child with his parents would be detrimental to the child or the living parents have consented to the permanent guardianship; and 2. Adoption has been thoroughly explored and is not possible or not in the best interest of the child; and
  9. 9. GUARDIANSHIP 3. If the child is 14 years of age or older, does not wish to be adopted and the individual chosen by the child to be the permanent guardian is the most appropriate person; and 4. The proposed guardian can provide a safe and permanent home for the child and is the most appropriate placement for the child taking into account the child’s best interests.
  10. 10. A waiver of policy is required when guardianship is selected as a permanency plan whenever: 1) A child is under the age of 14 2) Or a child is legally free for adoption.
  11. 11. DFCS Guardianship Policy  DFCS shall ensure there is a court order finding for non-reunification  An approved Relative/Non-Relative Care Assessment (R/Non-RCA)  At least six (6) months of DFCS’ supervision of a child’s placement with the relative or non- relative caregiver prior to recommending permanent guardianship.
  12. 12. Permanency Options Adoption vs. Guardianship
  13. 13. Adoption Guardianship Benefits:  Legal Parents  Rights of inherence  Non-Recurring Adoption Assistance to pay legal fees and court cost associated with the adoption. Not to exceed $1,500 per child  Medicaid  Crisis Intervention (90 day intervals) if needed Georgia Center for Resources and Support (Support Group Activities Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry A-TEAM - Adoption Support Group for adopted teenagers. Adoption Assistance Payments until age 18 Adoption Assistance beyond age 18 if the child was in the permanent custody of DHS and adopted after age 13 or prior to 1998 and attending school full- time. Benefits:  Medicaid, if qualify for one of 34 programs  Subsidy Payments until age 18
  14. 14. Adoption Assistance Rate (Monthly Payment) Age Rate 0-5 $441.04 6-12 $463.85 13-18 $486.67 Children with severe mental, emotional, or physical challenges may receive higher rates for specialized needs if documented by a licensed medical or psychological provider. Subsidized Guardianship Rate (Monthly Payment) Guardianship Rate Age Rate 0-5 $365.91 6-12 $413.67 13 and over $471.15