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Family and Children's
Resource Program

Vol. 25, No. 2
April 2020

KinGAP, Guardianship, and the Path to Permanency

When reunification and adoption are not possible, guardianship is an important path to permanency for youth in foster care. Guardianship is most often used when relatives or "family-like" individuals wish to provide a permanent home for the child and maintain the child's relationships with extended family without termination of parental rights (CWIG, 2019).

Of the children and youth in the U.S. who exited foster care to permanency in 2016, 9.5% (n=23,659) did so through guardianship (USDHHS, 2019).

To support guardianship, North Carolina offers the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP). This program offers financial assistance and Medicaid for youth who are placed with licensed kin or foster parents who are committed to being a permanent home for the youth.

Unfortunately, KinGAP is underutilized. Although numbers have increased slightly, fewer than 30 of the 1,008 North Carolina youth who left foster care through guardianship in SFY 2018-19 received KinGAP benefits (NCDHHS, 2019).

To achieve permanency when reunification and adoption are not possible, North Carolina strongly encourages child welfare staff and their agencies to:

  • Encourage kin to become licensed foster parents. Begin discussing licensure when the child is first placed with kin. To qualify for KinGAP, the youth must be placed in a licensed home for at least 6 months. On average, only 10% of relative caregivers become licensed in NC (NCDHHS, 2019).

  • Identify barriers to relative licensure in your county and implement strategies to address them.

  • Make use of these resources:

To Learn More
Click here to access the NC Child Welfare manual to learn more about guardianship and KinGAP program requirements.

References for this and other articles in this issue