States with Federally Subsidized Guardianship Programs Move Children Out of Long-term Foster Care into Safe, Permanent Homes

  • October 13, 2004
According to a report by Fostering Results, the past decade has seen unparalleled success in finding adoptive homes for children in foster care. This achievement — including states' answering the federal challenge to double adoptions out of foster care in five years — was the result of coordinated efforts across multiple fronts. At the national level, the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 required that states pursue adoptive homes for children who had been in foster care for 15 out of the latest 22 months. Federal policy also linked adoption performance to financial rewards by offering bonuses to states increasing the numbers of adopted foster children. State agencies and courts rallied to the call by setting goals, tracking timelines, and expediting legal processes to secure the placement of foster children in safe and permanent homes.

Despite the noteworthy accomplishments, serious work remains for the estimated 185,700 foster children still awaiting permanence. The importance of finding these children safe and permanent homes is a federal and state priority. But a long-recognized permanency option that ASFA reaffirms is under-utilized by states working to secure permanence for children—especially those children in safe and stable placements with relative caregivers. This permanency option is legal guardianship, and the focus of this report is how children in long-term foster care with relatives are prime candidates for permanence when supported through some form of subsidized guardianship.


Fostering Results is a national, nonpartisan project to raise awareness of issues facing children in foster care. It is supported by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to the Children and Family Research Center at the School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The complete report is available at