Syracuse & Central New York Kinship Guardianship Attorney

When Social Services removes a child from his or her parent’s custody, they often investigate whether the child has any relatives who could receive custody. New York offers a kinship guardianship program that provides financial assistance for a foster parent related to the foster child. The kinship guardianship process promotes an alternative to placing children in foster care by providing them a permanent home for a child.

New York’s Administration for Children’s Services covers most of the cost of legal representation for relative foster parents seeking kinship guardianship. At CDH Law PLLC, our attorneys have assisted many clients in successfully obtaining kinship guardianships in New York. Whether you are a relative seeking to become a kinship guardian or a parent seeking to protect your parental rights, we can help. Contact our Syracuse law firm today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how we can assist you.

The Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP) 

New York state’s Administration for Children’s Services manages the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP). Guardians who qualify for the kinship legal guardian are entitled to monthly compensation to cover the child’s care expenses. Certified foster parents who have been taking care of a foster child for at least six months may be eligible to become legal guardians of the child. 

The Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program provides qualifying foster parents with monthly financial aid and medical coverage of the child until they reach the age of 18. These benefits help foster parents provide the child with excellent care and medical coverage. The program encourages children to remain with their family members. Living with a responsible family member instead of moving to and from a foster care home provides children who are often at-risk with much-needed stabilization.

Eligibility for Kinship Legal Guardianship

Not all relatives qualify for the kinship legal guardianship program in New York. The foster parent must be related to the child by blood, adoption, or marriage. The applicant must be a licensed foster parent who’s taken care of the child in his or her home for six months or longer. A court must rule out an adoption or a return to the parent’s home as appropriate custody options for the child.

The Office of Children and Family Services will conduct a caregiver assessment free of charge to the foster parent. The court will consider the agency’s recommendations, including suggestions regarding visitation restrictions on the child’s biological parents. Courts try to facilitate visitation rights between birth parents and their children whenever it doesn’t pose a safety risk to the child. In some circumstances, courts find it necessary to limit the contact between the biological parent and the child once they grant kinship legal guardianship. The agency must also prove that unification attempts between the parents were unnecessary or unsuccessful and that the child’s adoption isn’t likely or possible.

Applying for Kinship Legal Guardianship

Applying for the kinship legal guardianship program can be overwhelming. The state of New York pays for the legal fees associated with the kinship guardianship process. We recommend you speak with one of our experienced family law attorneys before you begin the application process.  If you have been caring for your minor relative for at least six months, and you believe that a kinship guardianship could be an appropriate option for your relative, we can help. You can contact us directly, or you can speak with your caseworker about applying.

We have an in-depth understanding of the kinship guardian application process, and we can help you gather all of the information you need to apply for the program successfully. As soon as the state approves your application, you will meet with New York’s Administration for Children Services.  They will provide you with the details regarding the amount of financial assistance you’ll receive. They will also advise you on what type of medical coverage they will provide for your foster care child.

Our attorneys have an in-depth understanding of New York family law.  We are often able to answer legal questions regarding kinship guardianship that state agencies cannot effectively discuss. Whether you have questions about the process itself, or you’re concerned that the court may deny your application, we can assist you through the process. Additionally, if your application has been denied, we can review your application and advise you on your legal options. We enjoy helping relative foster parents obtain the monthly financial assistance and medical care their foster children deserve under New York law.

The Rights and Obligations of the Child’s Parents

The child’s biological parents’ rights are not terminated when a kinship guardian obtains legal guardianship. Because the courts do not need to terminate the parent’s rights, applying for and finalizing the guardianship is a shorter process than the legal adoption process. Should you become the child’s kinship guardian, you will have the legal authority to make all parenting decisions. 

As soon as the court finalizes the kinship guardianship, the child has been permanently placed with a guardian and the Office of Children and Family Services will close the case. The foster care agency will no longer supervise you after you become a kinship guardian. 

Contact a New York Kinship Guardianship Lawyer Today

The experienced lawyers at CDH Law PLLC have extensive experience helping loved ones obtain legal kinship guardianship. If the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program has approved you to be a guardian, or you’d like to learn more about your rights, we can help. Additionally, if you are a parent who wants to challenge a kinship guardianship, we can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. Contact our Syracuse family law attorneys today to schedule your initial consultation.