KinGAP is the nickname for New York’s Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program. It is intended as an alternative to adoption and foster care that allows the kinship guardian to continue to receive payments similar to what they were receiving as a foster parent. It is used when it is not appropriate to return the child to either parent, but adoption is also not the right option (for example, when a grandparent does not want to replace a parent). It removes the child from the foster care system and ends the day-to-day involvement of the Department of Social Services in the family’s life.
KinGAP can be used when the following criteria are met:
- the child is related to the guardian by blood, adoption, or marriage
- the guardian is a certified foster parent
- the child has resided with the guardian for at least 6 months
- a KinGAP agreement is entered into between the guardian and DSS before the guardianship letters are received
A kinship guardianship can allow for the birth parents to receive information and have visits with the child, but the guardian is the one the child lives with and the one who makes all decisions for the child. A kingship guardianship order can be modified in the future, but it is intended to be more permanent than a custody order.
The guardian receives a reimbursement of up to $2,000 for their legal fees, monthly assistance (similar to foster care payments), and medical coverage for the child.
The child may subsequently be adopted by the kinship guardian with the consent of the parents or without their consent if the parents subsequently abandon the child.
Until 2019, it was unclear whether KinGAP payment would continue after an adoption. In 2019, Copps DiPaola Silverman was successful in overturning a determination that KinGAP payment should be terminated after a subsequent adoption. For more details about this ground-breaking case, please see the full article on this topic.