43401. Relative Guardianship Assistance Program (R-GAP)

Approval: Connie Lambert-Eckel, Acting Assistant Secretary

Effective Date: June 10, 2010

Revised Date: October 19, 2017

Sunset Review: October 1, 2021


Purpose

The Relative Guardianship Assistance Program (R-GAP) provides a subsidy for children placed with a qualified licensed relative when it is determined during a shared planning meeting that a guardianship is in the child’s best interests.

Scope

This policy applies to all Children Administration staff.

Laws

RCW 13.34 Juvenile Court Act, Dependency and Termination of Parent-Child Relationship Chapter

RCW 13.36 Guardianship Chapter

RCW 74.13.031 Duties of the Department, Child Welfare Services, Children’s Services Advisory Committee

RCW 74.13A.047 Adoption Assistance Payments, expenditure limits

PL 113-183  Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act

RCW 74.15.020  Definitions

RCW 13.38.040  Definitions

PL 110-351 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008

42 U.S.C. 671 State plan for foster care and adoption assistance

42 U.S.C. 673 Adoption and guardianship assistance program

42 U.S.C. 675 Definitions

Policy

  1. R-GAP includes a monthly subsidy and Medicaid eligibility for the child and is available to support a child’s care with a licensed relative caregiver.
  2. A child is eligible for R-GAP if they meet the following eligibility requirements:
    1. Placed for at least six consecutive months with a relative caregiver who has been licensed for at least six consecutive months.
    2. Is Title IV-E eligible as determined by a Title IV-E specialist prior to establishing the guardianship.
    3. Placed with a relative who meets the definition of relative per RCW 74.15.020(2)(a) Relative Definitions or is an Indian child and the caregiver meets the definition of relative by tribal code and custom.
  3. A child qualifies for R-GAP when they are placed in a home with a sibling already receiving R-GAP.
  4. Relative caregivers must be provided with an explanation of R-GAP when guardianship is being considered as a potential permanent plan for the child.
  5. The R-GAP subsidy will continue for youth until their 21st birthday when one of the following applies:
    1. Youth achieved permanency through guardianship at the age of 16 or older and the youth is:
      1. Enrolled in high school or in a high school equivalency program;
      2. Enrolled, applied for, or can show intent to timely enroll in a post-secondary academic or post-secondary vocational certification program;
      3. Participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment; or
      4. Employed 80 hours or more a month.
      5. Unable to engage in any of the above activities due to a documented medical condition.
    2. A youth achieved permanency through a guardianship and has a mental or physical handicap which warrants the continuation of assistance.
  6. The R-GAP Agreement:
    1. Is a contract between the relative guardian and CA.
    2. Must be signed prior to establishing a guardianship court ruling or order.
    3. Remains in effect regardless of the guardian's state of residence unless the agreement is terminated.
  7. In the event of the death or incapacity of the legal guardian, the R-GAP subsidy and Medicaid for the child will transfer to a successor legal guardian if the successor legal guardian was named in the original R-GAP Agreement or the R-GAP Amendment prior to the death or incapacity of the legal guardian.
    1. The R-GAP Agreement must be amended prior to the establishment of the guardianship with the successor guardian. Prior to the R-GAP payment:
      1. The successor guardian must become the child’s legal guardian.
      2. The regional R-GAP gatekeeper will complete:
        1. Fingerprint-based background check of the successor guardian; and
        2. Child abuse and neglect registry checks in-state (FamLink) and out-of-state on the guardians and other adults 18 and older living in the guardian’s home.
      3. The successor guardian must pass a background check.
    2. The successor guardian does not need to be a relative and does not need to be licensed as a foster parent to receive the R-GAP subsidy.
    3. CA will pay non-recurring expenses associated with obtaining the new legal guardianship with the successor guardian of the child up to a maximum amount of $2000.00.
  8. A fair hearing may be requested by any relative caregiver whose R-GAP application has been denied. A request for a fair hearing must be made within 90 days of the denial letter being mailed to the caregiver.

Procedures

  1. If a guardianship is being considered as the child’s permanent plan, the assigned worker must determine whether the child meets the following R-GAP requirements:
    1. Has resided in the home of the licensed relative for six consecutive months and the relative caregiver has been licensed for at least six months at the time of R-GAP application;
    2. Found by the court to be a dependent child of Washington state; and
    3. Consents to the guardianship as his or her permanent plan if he or she is 14 years old and older.
  2. When a licensed caregiver is interested in receiving R-GAP subsidy for an eligible child:
    1. The assigned worker will:
      1. Complete the Guardianship Approval Checklist DSHS 15-324;
      2. Complete Sections I and V of the Title IVE R-GAP Eligibility form DSHS 14-319A;
      3. Provide proposed relative guardian with the R-GAP Application and Worksheet (DSHS 15-392 and 15-390); and
      4. Provide the Regional R-GAP Gatekeeper with a completed R-GAP subsidy packet, which includes:
        1. Title IVE R-GAP Eligibility form DSHS 14-319A;
        2. R-GAP Application DSHS 15-392;
        3. R-GAP Worksheet DSHS 15-390;
        4. Guardianship Approval Checklist DSHS 15-324 signed by regional administrator or designee, with attachments.
        5. A copy of the proposed guardian’s foster license, if license is not in FamLink.
        6. If the child is Indian, a letter from the child’s tribe determining that the proposed guardian is considered the child’s relative based on tribal code or custom.
    2. The Regional R-GAP Gatekeeper will:
      1. Review the completed R-GAP application packet.
      2. Initiate the R-GAP IVE Eligibility tab in FamLink and complete Section 1 using R-GAP IVE Eligibility form DSHS 14-319A.
      3. Notify IV-E specialists to complete IV-E Federal Funding Eligibility Determination for R-GAP in FamLink.
      4. Document the information from the R-GAP Worksheet into the FamLink R-GAP agreement.
      5. Negotiate the monthly subsidy amount with the proposed guardian and approve any non-recurring expenses for the finalization of the guardianship. The R-GAP monthly subsidy amount cannot exceed the statutory cap for foster care maintenance payments for that child had the child remained in a licensed foster home during the same period:
        1. For a child under age 5, up to 80% of the foster care maintenance payment;
        2. For a child aged 5 to 9, up to 90% of the foster care maintenance payment; and
        3. For a child aged 10 to 18, up to 95% of the foster care maintenance payment.
      6. Inform the prospective guardian and the assigned worker that the R-GAP Agreement must be signed prior to the guardianship hearing and order.
      7. Launch the R-GAP Agreement in FamLink and send to the proposed relative caregiver for signature.
      8. Submit the signed R-GAP Agreement to the regional administrator or designee for signature.
      9. Notify the assigned caseworker that the R-GAP Agreement has been signed by all parties and that the guardianship hearing can take place.
      10. Provide a signed copy of the R-GAP Agreement to the proposed guardian.
  3. When the guardianship is established, the assigned worker will:
    1. Notify the regional R-GAP gatekeeper on the date the guardianship is established.
    2. Close all services and payments in FamLink the day prior to the date the guardianship was established.
    3. Update and close legal and placement in FamLink.
  4. When the regional R-GAP gatekeeper is notified of the establishment of the guardianship, he or she will:
    1. Review the case in FamLink to ensure that placement, legal, services and payments are closed.
    2. Authorize appropriate R-GAP services in FamLink for the agreed upon monthly subsidy and agreed upon non-recurring expenses.
    3. Update provider information by adding the child to the FamLink “Non-CA Children in Placement” group box on the Placement tab in Provider Maintenance.
    4. Create amendments to the R-GAP Agreement upon the request of the relative guardian and agreement of the department.
    5. Create an amendment to the R-GAP Agreement transferring the subsidy to the named successor legal guardian in the event of the death or incapacity of the legal guardian.
    6. End the R-GAP service payment and open the R-GAP Over 18 service code for eligible youth 18 years and older in FamLink.
    7. Terminate the R-GAP Agreement according to the terms of the agreement or if one of the following occurs:
      1. The child reaches 18 years of age unless eligible to continue to age 21.
      2. The guardian no longer has legal responsibility for the child, unless a successor guardian has been named and the guardian is deceased or incapacitated.
      3. The guardian is no longer providing financial support for the child.
      4. The guardian or child dies.

Forms and Tools

  • R-GAP Agreement (Launched in FamLink)
  • R-GAP Application and Worksheet (DSHS 15-392 and 15-390) (available on the CA intranet)
  • IV-E Eligibility Determination DSHS 14-319a (available on the CA intranet)
  • Declaration of Proposed Guardian (available on the CA intranet)
  • Guardianship Approval Checklist DSHS 15-324

Resources

  • Permanency Planning Benefits and Limitations (available on CA intranet)
  • Q&A Social Workers (available on the CA intranet)
  • Medicaid to 26 Q&A
  • ICW Manual