Caregivers can assume legal guardianship of a child in out-of-home care without termination of parental rights, as is required for an adoption. Legal guardianship is more durable but more complex than transfer of custody to caregivers. Guardianship is most frequently used when relative caregivers wish to provide a permanent home for the child and maintain relationships with extended family members but there is not a termination of parental rights.
A guardian makes legal decisions on behalf of the ward including accessing and monitoring supports and services for physical, psychological and emotional care. The guardian provides informed consents and maintains communication with service providers including case managers, facility staff and medical providers. A guardian advocates for and protects the personal, civil and human rights of a ward.