4340. Guardianships

Original Date: February 2004

Revised Date:  January 1, 2021

Sunset Review Date: January 31, 2025

Approved By: Jody Becker, Deputy Secretary of Children and Families


Purpose 

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance on the use of subsidized and unsubsidized guardianships as a permanent plan for dependent children or youth.

Scope

This policy applies to child welfare employees.

Laws

RCW 13.34.030 Definitions

RCW 13.34.145 Permanency Planning Hearing and Guardianship Petition

RCW 13.34.232 Guardianship for Dependent Child

RCW 13.34.234 Guardianship for Dependent Child and Dependency Guardianship Subsidies

RCW 13.36 Guardianship

RCW 74.13.031 Duties of the Department

Policy

  1. Caseworkers must:
    1. Hold shared planning meetings (SPM) before permanent plans of guardianship are considered for dependent children or youth.
    2. Not vacate guardianships or accept Voluntary Placement Agreements (VPA) for the purpose of making children or youth eligible for foster care or Extended Foster Care (EFC).
  2. DCYF may subsidize guardianships based upon eligibility requirements.

Procedures

  1. Considering Guardianships
    Caseworkers must complete the following when considering a guardianship for dependent children or youth as their permanent plan:
    1. Conduct a SPM prior to making permanency planning recommendations.
    2. During the SPM:
      1. Follow the steps in the Guide to Shared Planning Meetings.
      2. Discuss and consider the following permanent planning options:
        1. Return home
        2. Adoption
        3. Guardianship
        4. Limited guardianship
      3. Consider the following factors when determining whether guardianship should be selected as the child or youth’s permanent plan:
        1. Reunification is not likely within the next three months.
        2. Guardianship rather than adoption is in the child or youth’s best interest.
        3. The continued relationship between the parent and child or youth is beneficial to the child or youth and would not disrupt the stability of the guardianship.
        4. The child or youth will have been placed in the proposed guardian’s home at least six consecutive months prior to the guardianship being established.
        5. Proposed guardians:
          1. Are available to make a commitment to the child or youth until adulthood with the intention of a lifelong commitment.
          2. Have a completed home study recommending placement. If a home study has not been referred follow the Placements with Unlicensed Relatives or Suitable Persons policy.
        6. Youth age 12 or older have been:
          1. Consulted regarding the guardianship.
          2. Notified of potential benefits and limitations using the Permanency Planning Matrix DCYF 16-231.
        7. Youth age 14 or older have provided consent to the guardianship by completing the Consent to Guardianship DCYF 09-021 form.
        8. A sibling is in the same placement and the permanent plan for the sibling is guardianship.
        9. A parent is incarcerated.
      4. Document on the Shared Planning Meeting DCYF 14-474 in FamLink the:
        1. Reasons why a guardianship is in the child or youth’s best interest.
        2. Proposed guardian’s:
          1. Commitment to be a permanent home for the child or youth.
          2. Ability to maintain the child or youth’s existing connections to family, friends, and community.
          3. Agreement with the plan of guardianship with the child or youth.
        3. Permanency Planning Matrix DCYF 16-231 was provided and discussed with the proposed guardian, the parents, and youth if appropriate.
        4. Notification to the proposed guardians that are relatives per RCW 13.36.020 (5) of the requirements to receive guardianship subsidy per the Relative Guardianship Assistance Program (R-GAP) policy.
    3. If the child or youth is an Indian child consult with the tribe or Local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committee (LICWAC).
  2. Obtaining the Proposed Guardian’s Agreement with the Plan of Guardianship
    After the SPM process recommends guardianship as the permanent plan for the child or youth, caseworkers must complete the following either at the SPM or within seven calendar days after the meeting:
    1. Discuss and document that the following was explained to the proposed guardian on the Shared Planning Meeting DCYF 14-474 form or in a case note in FamLink:
      1. The differences between:
        1. Adoption and guardianship using the Permanency Planning Matrix DCYF 16-231 form.
        2. Subsidized and unsubsidized guardianships, for proposed guardians:
          1. Eligible for subsidy, provide eligibility and information outlined in the R-GAP policy.
          2. Not eligible for subsidy, e.g. unlicensed relatives, foster parents, and suitable others, provide them with information on potential benefits and the process to request benefits through the Economic Services Administration Community Service Office.
      2. The following services are not available under a guardianship, including but not limited to:
        1. Mileage reimbursement
        2. Travel reimbursement
        3. Respite care
        4. Clothing vouchers
        5. Child care
        6. Case aid services
        7. Tutoring
        8. Case management services
        9. Educational support
        10. Parent-child visitation support
      3. Once the guardianship is established, the child or youth is no longer in foster care and all DCYF-funded services, including case management and EFC, are no longer available.
      4. They may request additional services through community resources, Family Voluntary Services, Family Reconciliation Services, or referrals to other DCYF services. Available services are dependent on program eligibility criteria.
    2. Obtain verbal agreement that the proposed guardian supports the plan of guardianship and document in FamLink in either the:
      1. Shared Planning Meeting DCYF 14-474 form.
      2. Case note.
  3. Finalizing Guardianship as the Permanent Plan
    1. Caseworkers must complete the following after the SPM process recommends the plan of guardianship and the proposed guardian is in agreement:
      1. For subsidized guardianships, follow the R-GAP policy for proposed guardians that are relatives, per RCW 13.36.020 (5).
      2. Collaborate with the proposed guardian and the child or youth’s parents to establish a visitation plan.
      3. Obtain parental consent to authorize the release of disclosure for the guardianship to the proposed guardians using the Consent DCYF 14-012 form.
      4. Provide guardianship disclosure to the proposed guardian, including but not limited to:
        1. Medical and dental records
        2. Court reports
        3. Educational records
        4. Evaluations and assessments
        5. Indian Child Welfare information
      5. Provide supervisors with the guardianship packet that includes the completed Guardianship Approval Checklist DCYF 15-324 form and:
        1. Copies of the:
          1. Completed Shared Planning Meeting DCYF 14-474 form.
          2. Proposed visitation plan between the child or youth and parents.
        2. Signed Declaration of Proposed Guardian court document.
    2. Supervisors receiving the guardianship packet must complete the following:
      1. Review the packet for approval.
      2. Complete the Guardianship Approval Checklist DCYF 15-324 form. If:
        1. Approved, send the form and attachments to the area administrator (AA). 
        2. Denied, return the form to the caseworker with the reason for the denial.
    3. AAs receiving the guardianship packets must:
      1. Review the packet for approval.
      2. Complete the Guardianship Approval Checklist DCYF 15-324 form. If:
        1. Approved, send the form and attachments to the regional administrator (RA).
        2. Denied, return the form to the supervisor with the reason for the denial.
    4. RAs or designees receiving the guardianship packets must:
      1. Review the packet for approval.
      2. Complete the Guardianship Approval Checklist DCYF 15-324 form. If:
        1. Approved, send the form and attachments to the caseworker.
        2. Denied, return the form to the AA with the reason for the denial.
    5. Caseworkers must complete the following after obtaining approval from the supervisor, AA, and RA or designees on the Guardianship Approval Checklist DCYF 15-324 form:
      1. Submit requests to file a guardianship petition to the assistant attorney general (AAG) that includes the:
        1. Signed Declaration of Proposed Guardian court document.
        2. Proposed visitation plan.
      2. Contact the AAG to request the court dismiss the dependency after the guardianship order was filed in court.
  4. R-GAP Subsidized Guardianships
    Caseworkers must follow the R-GAP policy when a guardianship subsidized through R-GAP is established.
  5. Unsubsidized Guardianships
    Caseworkers must complete the following when an unsubsidized guardianship is established:
    1. Terminate the following in FamLink on the date the guardianship is finalized:
      1. All services, DCYF case management, placement, and payment.
      2. Child placing agency (CPA) case management and borrowed foster home services for families licensed by CPAs.
    2. Update the following in FamLink within seven calendar days of receipt of the dependency dismissal from the court:
      1. Legal using the Legal FamLink Training Guide.
      2. Placement.
    3. Close the case using the Case Closure FamLink Quick Help Guide.  
    4. Send closed hard-files to the Records Imaging Unit per the Records Management policy.
  6. Dependency Guardianships Established Prior to June 10, 2010
    Caseworkers assigned to RCW 13.34.232 dependency guardianship cases established prior to June 10, 2010:
    1. Must allow youth ordered into dependency guardianships to request to participate in the EFC Program.
    2. Must allow dependency guardianships to remain open for subsidy or services payments, but must close the guardianship when the youth reaches 18 years of age.
    3. May convert RCW 13.34.232 dependency guardianships to Chapter 13.36 RCW guardianships, when the guardian and DCYF agree.
    4. Must not provide additional services on converted Chapter 13.36 RCW guardianships.
  7. Notices to Terminate Guardianships
    Caseworkers receiving notices to terminate guardianships must consult with the AAG and headquarters guardianship program manager within seven calendar days of receiving notice of a petition to terminate the guardianship.

Forms

Consent DCYF 14-012

Consent to Guardianship DCYF 09-021 (located in the Forms repository on the DCYF intranet)

Guardianship Approval Checklist DCYF 15-324

Permanency Planning Matrix DCYF 16-231

Shared Planning Meeting DCYF 14-474

Resources

DCYF Administrative 13.06 Records Management and Retention Procedures policy

Extended Foster Care (EFC) Program policy

Family Reconciliation Services policy

Family Voluntary Services policy

Guide to Shared Planning Meetings (located on the Child and Family Welfare Services Guide and Tools DCYF intranet page)

Indian Child policy

Indian Child Welfare Casework Activities for Court Proceedings policy

Indian Child Welfare Local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committee (LICWAC) policy

Legal FamLink Training Guide

Placements with Unlicensed Relatives or Suitable Persons policy

Records Management policy

Relative Guardianship Assistance Program (R-GAP) policy

Shared Planning Meetings policy

Voluntary Placement Agreements (VPA) policy