The Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP) is designed for a foster child to achieve a permanent placement with a relative who had been the child’s foster parent for at least six months.
This program provides financial support and in most cases medical coverage for the child, beginning with the child’s discharge from foster care to the guardian. The level of financial support is similar to the maintenance payments received while the child was in foster care.
Ganolli Law provides legal representation for relative foster parents who have been accepted into the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP) by The Administration for Children’s Services, and the cost of such representation is paid for by New York State, therefore the foster parent does not have to pay legal fees for representation in a KinGAP matter.
How to qualify for KinGAP
In addition to being the child’s foster parent for at least six months, the prospective guardian must be related to the child by blood, adoption, or marriage, and the relationship can be to any degree of affinity. A KinGAP family must have a strong commitment to caring for the child on a permanent basis.
The foster child must have a strong attachment to the relative who proposes to be a relative guardian. The child must be consulted if age 14 or over. The child must consent if age 18 or over.
The foster child does not have to be free for adoption in order for Kinship Guardianship Assistance to be provided. The foster child’s caseworker will be working with the child’s birth family and prospective relative guardian to explore other permanency options or determine that there are compelling reasons for the child not to return home or be adopted.
Because, as stated above, the child’s parental rights need not be terminated to achieve Kinship Guardianship Assistance, the legal process from application to finalization can be considerably shorter than freeing a child and legalizing an adoption. This process can be made seamless for a foster parent by hiring a knowledge attorney who is familiar with the KinGAP process.
In order for KinGAP eligibility to be established, the case must have completed certain court hearings (a fact finding hearing for certain children who have been removed and a first permanency hearing for all children in foster care) before the agreement can be approved by the LDSS. After the agreement is approved, a guardianship petition must be filed with the court and the court must issue letters of guardianship.
Payments start once the letters of guardianship are issued. Assistance may continue until the child reaches the age of 18 or in some cases 21, as long as the guardian remains legally responsible for the child and continues to provide support for the child. Once a child turns 18, the guardian then has to file a petition with Family Court seeking to extend the guardianship until the age of 21 years old. The KinGAP financing does not cover attorney’s fees for this step however a call to Ganolli Law can help answer any questions about this additional step and process.
KinGAP in New York State is governed by various provisions of Social Services Law, Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act and New York State Family Assistance regulations.
If the family moves out of New York State after the relative assumes guardianship, the assistance will continue, and the agreement will contain information on continuing medical coverage in the new state of residence. When Kinship Guardianship Assistance is in place, the guardian can make all necessary decisions for the child, including medical and educational decisions. For a child not free for adoption, parental rights are still retained by the birth parents. The child may maintain contact with the parents, including visits, if appropriate to the circumstances. The agency's supervision is no longer required and the child is said to have successful exited from foster care.