Subsidized Guardianship in Wisconsin
Guardianship is a legal permanency option for children placed in out of home care through the child welfare system. A caregiver who is appointed guardian of a child by the court has the duty and authority to make important decisions for the child without severing the child’s legal relationship to their parents and other family members.
Subsidized guardianship supports the legal permanence option of guardianship and allows the guardian to continue receiving a monthly payment to offset the costs of caring for the child. The child welfare agency must determine if the child and prospective guardian are eligible for subsidized guardianship and enter into a subsidized guardianship agreement with the prospective guardian prior to the court’s appointment of the guardian. After the guardianship is established, the guardian will receive a monthly payment until the child and/or guardian no longer meet the eligibility criteria, or the subsidized guardianship agreement is terminated.
Am I eligible for subsidized guardianship?
To be eligible for subsidized guardianship, the child welfare agency must determine that both the child and the prospective guardian(s) meet the following eligibility criteria:
The child has been removed from their home under a voluntary placement agreement or a Wisconsin court order or a substantially similar tribal court order containing a finding that continued placement of the child in their home would be contrary to the welfare of the child.
The child has been residing in the home of the prospective guardian for at least six consecutive months immediately before the guardianship is established.
Reunification and adoption are not in the best interests of the child.
The child demonstrates a strong attachment to the prospective guardian.
If the child is age 14 or older, the child has been consulted regarding the guardianship agreement.
The prospective guardian is a relative of the child or has a like-kin relationship with the child.
Like-kin is defined as a person who had a significant relationship with the child or child’s family before the child’s placement in out of home care, OR
A person who developed a significant relationship with the child or the child’s family during the child’s placement in out of home care and all the following apply:
The person is a foster parent who has had a relationship with the child for at least two years;
The child is 14 years of age or older;
The child has been placed in out-of-home care for 15 out of the last 22 months; and
The agency or court determines that placement with a fit and willing relative is not in the child’s best interest.
The prospective guardian has been licensed as a foster parent for at least six months before being named as the guardian of the child and the prospective guardian and all non-client residents in their home have met the background check requirements.
The prospective guardian has a strong commitment to permanently caring for the child.
Before being named guardian of the child, the prospective guardian entered into a subsidized guardianship agreement with the child welfare agency.
Once the prospective guardian is appointed legal guardian of the eligible child under Wisconsin Stat. § 48.977 or a substantially similar tribal court order that originated in Wisconsin, the underlying voluntary placement agreement or court order containing a finding that continued placement of the child outside of their home must be dismissed or terminated.
How do I obtain a subsidized guardianship?
The child welfare agency should explain the various permanency options that you and the child placed in your home are eligible for. The document below provides an explanation of the permanency options.
Permanency Options in Brief
Opciones de Permanencia en Resumen
You may also submit a written request to the child welfare agency to determine your eligibility for subsidized guardianship payments and the agency must provide you with a written decision about your eligibility within 30 days after receiving the request.
If the agency did not act promptly on your request to determine eligibility for subsidized guardianship payments or the agency denied your eligibility for subsidized guardianship payments based on eligibility criteria not being met, you may appeal that decision. Your appeal must be submitted to the Division of Hearing and Appeals within 45 days of the original decision date. You can send the appeal via mail or hand deliver it.
Division of Hearings and Appeals
P.O. Box 7875
Madison, Wisconsin 53707
4822 Madison Yards Way
5th Floor North
Madison, WI 53705
If the child welfare agency determines that both you and the child are eligible for subsidized guardianship, the agency will work with you on determining the monthly payment amount and create the subsidized guardianship agreement. The agency should review the agreement with you and note your responsibilities as the guardian. The agency will petition for transfer of guardianship of the child and after the court appoints the guardian, monthly payments to the guardian may begin.
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The Wisconsin Family Connections Center (WiFCC) offers information resources, trainings, support groups and events for relative, like-kin, guardianship, and adoptive families.
Wisconsin Kinship Navigator is an online portal designed to provide caregivers with resources and eligibility requirements for state-sponsored services.
211 Relative Caregiver Guided Search is a database for caregivers to find local resources based on keywords and specific topics of interest.
Information taken from Wisconsin Department of Children and Families at dcf.wisconsin.gov.