OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 7037 (as amended by House “A”)*

AN ACT EXPANDING THE SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIP PROGRAM TO SIBLINGS OF CHILDREN LIVING WITH RELATIVE CAREGIVERS.

SUMMARY:

This bill makes more guardians eligible for cash and medical assistance through the Department of Children and Families (DCF's) Subsidized Guardianship Program. The program is currently restricted to relatives taking care of foster children whose parents are either dead or unlikely to be able to care for them within the foreseeable future. Under the bill, caregivers qualify for additional subsidies when they assume guardianship of the child's half- or step-siblings to whom they are not related.

Under current law, DCF's Kinship Navigator program must provide relative caregivers with information about state services and benefits for which they may be eligible. The bill specifies that the information relates to services and benefits for households with children under age 18.

The bill also gives foster parents, prospective adoptive parents, and relative caregivers the right to be heard at all proceedings concerning an abused or neglected child they are caring for or who was under their care in the last year. Current law gives only some foster parents the right to be heard in some types of proceedings.

*House Amendment “A” adds the notice and hearing provisions.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007

SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIP

The subsidized guardianship program currently subsidizes DCF-approved relatives who have (1) foster care licenses, (2) been taking care of the child for at least six months, and (3) a probate court order naming them the child's guardian. The subsidy includes a (1) one-time payment of up to $ 500 for expenses associated with taking the child in, unless the costs can be paid from another source; (2) HUSKY A medical insurance, unless the child has private coverage; and (3) a monthly cash payment that equals the prevailing foster care rate.

The bill provides the same subsidy for each step- and half-sibling over whom they assume guardianship. By law, subsidies generally end on the child's 18th birthday, but continue through age 20 when he or she is enrolled full-time in college, technical school, or a state-accredited job training program.

The law currently requires DCF to provide the subsidy after the child has been living in an approved household for at least 18 months, but permits subsidies, within appropriations, after six months. The bill requires that approved caregivers become eligible for subsidies after six months, but retains the limitation that subsidies for care given between six and 18 months be made within the department's available appropriations.

PARTICIPATING IN ABUSE AND NEGLECT HEARINGS

Current law requires courts to notify a child's foster parents when it schedules a hearing concerning DCF's permanency plan or revoking its commitment. They must be permitted to be heard. Courts must also permit former foster parents to be heard on these matters and on requests to change the child's placement if they cared for the child in the last year, so long as the child lived with them for at least six months.

The bill extends the notice and hearing requirements to prospective adoptive parents and relative caregivers. It modifies the restriction on recent foster parents, eliminating the requirement that the child have lived with them for at least six months. It permits recent prospective adoptive parents and relative caregivers to be heard in the same manner.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Select Committee on Children

Joint Favorable Change of Reference

Yea

10

Nay

0

(03/06/2007)

Human Services Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute Change of Reference

Yea

17

Nay

0

(03/20/2007)

Appropriations Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

48

Nay

0

(04/19/2007)