What Social Service Professionals Need to Know to Support Guardianship Families

Attaining legal permanence is not always about finding a new family. In some instances, it is about legally re-defining roles of existing family members or establishing legal relationships with other adults who have a family-like relationship with children through guardianship. Although different from adoption, the adjustment to these newly defined responsibilities can be just as complicated, including the need to address children’s trauma and the changes in family dynamics. Social service professionals can better serve guardianship families by learning about the dynamics of the family’s permanent relationships, factors that influenced their decision-making in choosing the guardianship option, and how those decisions might affect the family’s current situation. Data on children exiting to guardianship from foster care can be found at https://www.acf. hhs.gov/cb/research-data-technology/statistics-research/afcars.