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Adoption & Guardianship

What is Guardianship?

Guardianship is a legally binding, permanent supervisory relationship between an adult (or adults) and a child. A guardian may be a relative or may be unrelated to the child, and the parental rights of the child's parents may or may not have been terminated.

A positive guardianship study must be completed, and a child must reside with the guardian family for at least six months, before a court hearing can be scheduled. The OCS Director or Designee must review permanent guardianship plans for children under 10 years of age.

When a guardian is appointed, OCS supervision ends, and foster care payments cease. Financial assistance in the form of a guardianship subsidy may continue.

The guardianship order that is issued by the Superior Court specifies the guardian's rights and responsibilities which include responsibility for the physical care and control of the child, the determination of where and with whom the child will live, the right and duty to protect, train, and discipline the child, and the responsibility of providing the child with food, shelter, education, and medical care.

Visitation between the child and the birth parents may occur, depending on what is agreed to with all parties. In guardianships where birth parents' rights have not been terminated, the birth parents can petition the court to modify the guardianship order. OCS and the guardian can also petition for modification. This could occur throughout the life of the guardianship.

Subsidy agreements are reviewed annually, and can be renegotiated as the needs of the child or family change.