PA 07-174—sHB 7037

Select Committee on Children

Human Services Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT EXPANDING THE SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIP PROGRAM TO SIBLINGS OF CHILDREN LIVING WITH RELATIVE CAREGIVERS, AND THE RIGHT OF FOSTER PARENTS, PROSPECTIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS AND RELATIVE CAREGIVERS TO BE HEARD IN CERTAIN LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

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

Under existing law, DCF's Kinship Navigator Program must provide relative caregivers with information about state services and benefits for which they may be eligible. The act specifies that the program is for relatives taking care of children under age 18.

The act 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. Prior law gave only some foster parents the right to be heard in some types of proceedings.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007

SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIP

By law, the Subsidized Guardianship Program 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 (1) a 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) monthly cash payments that equal the prevailing foster care rate.

The act provides the same subsidy for each additional step- and half-sibling. 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.

Prior law required DCF to provide the subsidy after the child had been living in an approved household for at least 18 months, but permitted subsidies, within appropriations, after six months. The act 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

Prior law required courts to notify a child's foster parents about scheduled hearings concerning DCF's permanency plan or commitment revocations and required that they be given an opportunity to be heard. It also required courts to permit former foster parents to be heard on these matters and on requests to change the child's placement if they had cared for the child in the last year, so long as the child lived with them for at least six months.

The act 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.

OLR Tracking: SP: JK: CR: RO