PA 08-97—sSB 66

Select Committee on Aging

Human Services Committee

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING SUPPORT FOR GRANDPARENTS AND OTHER RELATIVE CAREGIVERS

SUMMARY: This act allows grandparents or other relative caregivers appointed guardian of a child through the Superior Court and who are not receiving subsidized guardianship or foster care payments from the Department of Children and Families (DCF), to apply for grants under the probate-court administered Kinship Fund and Grandparents and Relatives Respite funds. Under prior law, only grandparents or relative caregivers appointed guardian of a child through probate court could get these grants, which are subject to available appropriations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2008

BACKGROUND

Probate Court Kinship Care and Respite Grants

The Children's Trust Fund, a state agency responsible for child abuse and neglect prevention, provides one-time grants to help grandparents pay for some nonrecurring child rearing costs. These can pay for such things as a bed or winter coat or for activities like summer camp or tutoring. The funds are available only through (1) probate courts in Bridgeport, Hartford, Killingly, New Haven, New London, Norwich, Waterbury, and West Haven; (2) the regional children's probate court in New Haven; and (3) the Norwich Department of Social Services office. Grant amounts range from $50-$250 per child, with a family maximum of $1,000.

The Children's Trust Fund also funds grants to help grandparents pay for respite costs. Grants are available for up to $2,000 per family per year to pay for housing, transportation, and child care expenses approved by the court.

Superior Court Guardianships

Grandparents may be appointed as guardians of a child either through the Superior or probate courts. Guardianship cases of children involved in the child welfare system (e. g. , victims of child abuse or neglect) are handled in Superior Court. Once appointed guardian under DCF's Subsidized Guardianship Program, grandparents receive monthly payments equal to that of foster care payments, which currently range from $746. 17 to $875. 44 (CGS 17a-126(c)).

Probate Court Guardianships

Cases involving grandparents whose grandchildren have not been committed to DCF are generally handled in the local probate court, which has flexibility to make the grandparent sole legal guardian or co-guardian with the child's biological parent or other responsible adult or to order a “springing” guardianship (one that becomes effective when an anticipated event, such a parent's incarceration or death, occurs). These arrangements are not formally subsidized by the state, although a qualifying guardian receives a monthly “child only” Temporary Family Assistance payment through the Department of Social Services. The current monthly payment is $344 for the first grandchild.

Exceptions

In certain limited situations, a grandparent of a child not involved with DCF may be appointed guardian in Superior Court. This may happen when a guardianship case in probate court is contested, at which point it may be transferred to the Superior Court. It may also happen when DCF has filed or is about to file a motion in Superior Court to assume temporary custody of a child and a grandparent volunteers to take guardianship of the child before DCF gets temporary custody. The grandparent may not wish to have any involvement with DCF and choose not to participate in the Subsidized Guardianship Program.

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