Revised Guidance on Fostering Connections Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program Issued
On February 18, 2010, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued ACYF-CB-PI-10-01 to provide States and Tribes with revised instructions on implementing the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) option under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections). This new Program Instruction allows States and Tribes that elect the GAP option to claim federal title IV-E support for children who had already exited foster care to kinship guardianship arrangements at the time the state or tribe elects the GAP option provided that the child and relative are both eligible and the kinship guardianship assistance agreement meets, or is amended to meet, all of the title IV-E requirements.
This new Program Instruction revises and supercedes ACYF-CB-PI-08-07, issued on December 24, 2008 which indicated that States or Tribes that took the GAP option would only be able to claim Title IV-E dollars for children who "exit foster care to a new guardianship arrangement on or after the first day of the quarter in which the approved title IV-E plan amendment was submitted to ACF."
A number of state and national stakeholders expressed concern that the December 24, 2008 interpretation was too narrow and would serve to deny federal kinship guardianship assistance to numerous children and families. As detailed in New Help for Children Raised by Grandparents and Other Relatives, there was broad consensus that Fostering Connections allowed for a child already moved from foster care to relative guardianship at the time the law passed to become eligible for federal assistance for guardianship payments made after the effective date of the law, but only if the guardianship agreement met all of the requirements of the law and the child and caregiver were otherwise eligible for the federal assistance. The new guidance is consistent with this interpretation and also makes clear that a pre-existing kinship guardianship assistance agreement can be amended to meet title IV-E requirements. This may be more difficult in some states than in others depending on how closely their prior kinship guardianship program requirements match the federal GAP requirements.