OFFICE OF FISCAL ANALYSIS

Legislative Office Building, Room 5200

Hartford, CT 06106 (860) 240-0200

http: //www. cga. ct. gov/ofa

sHB-7037

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

OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact:

Agency Affected

Fund-Effect

FY 08 $

FY 09 $

Children & Families, Dept.

GF - Cost

Potential Minimal

Potential Minimal

Children & Families, Dept.

GF - Revenue Loss

Potential Minimal

Potential Minimal

Social Services, Dept.

GF - Savings

Potential Minimal

Potential Minimal

Note: GF=General Fund

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

The bill makes several modifications to the subsidized guardianship program administered by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). There are presently approximately 1,640 children receiving subsidized guardianship payments.

Under current law, the commissioner has the discretion to operate a subsidized guardianship program under which a child who has spent at least six months in foster care may be transitioned to guardianship status. Under the bill, the commissioner is instead required to operate such a program; however it continues to be restricted to operating within available appropriations. It should be noted that the agency does currently allow children who have been in foster care for at least six months to be transitioned to guardianship settings when it is deemed to be in their best interest.

The bill further expands eligibility for the subsidized guardianship program to a sibling (including a step-sibling or half-sibling) of a related child who is in a subsidized guardianship placement when the sibling (a) has been in foster care for not less than eighteen months, or (b) when the sibling has been in foster care for not less than six months or more than eighteen months, subject to available appropriations. It is anticipated that a small, but indeterminate, number of additional children would be deemed eligible for the subsidized guardianship program.

In those situations in which the sibling's foster care experience does not immediately precede the transition to the relative caregiver's home, the DCF will experience average costs of approximately $815 per month ($9,780 per year). In some of these cases, the Department of Social Services may have been providing a TNF payment, and would experience savings of $330 per month ($3,960 a year) when the child enters subsidized guardianship.

However, the vast majority of children are transitioned into the subsidized guardianship program directly from foster homes. Since foster care payments are equivalent to subsidized guardianship payments, no additional costs would be incurred when the foster care period immediately precedes transition to guardianship. The state will incur a revenue loss, however, to the extent that additional Title IV-E eligible children are transitioned from foster care, as the federal government does not reimburse guardianship payments.

No fiscal impact is anticipated in response to passage of Section 2, which extends the kinship navigator program to grandparents and other relatives caring for unrelated children.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future subject to inflation.