When a child you know is facing a crisis at home, and you are called upon to care for the child, you can choose from two paths. You can either become a licensed foster parent, or the court may give you temporary custody and guardianship of the child.
The resources available to you may differ depending on the path you take. Also, your circumstances and the circumstances of the child may make one option a better fit than the other.
Custody & Guardianship
Having custody and guardianship of the child may give you some added independence in making decisions, but it also gives you more responsibility. For example, you will be responsible for making sure the child’s needs are met while in your care. This includes enrolling the child in school, arranging for counseling or other services the child might need, and providing for their medical and dental care.
If you are related to the child, you may be able to apply for a “Care of a Relative” grant at the Utah Department of Workforce Services. If awarded, the grant would provide you with some financial and Medicaid assistance. If you do this, you may be required to complete “duty of support” paperwork, authorizing the state to collect child support from the child’s parents.
Even with temporary custody and guardianship, the court may have a caseworker from the Utah Division of Child & Family Services (DCFS) assigned to monitor the child’s case and see that the child is getting the services they need.
Licensed Foster Care
If you are a licensed foster parent, the child remains the legal responsibility of the state, but is placed in your home. This means that you would make most of the day-to-day decisions for the child. However, DCFS may involve themselves in certain decisions — such as which school the child attends or what services the child will receive.
Like any other child in foster care, a DCFS caseworker would be assigned to monitor the child’s care. Caseworkers are required to meet with you and the child regularly, oversee the child’s care, and even help coordinate visits with the child’s birth parents (as appropriate).
Licensed families receive a monthly reimbursement consistent with current foster care rates (published by DCFS). The state is responsible to obtain Medicaid for the child and to assist in accessing any specialized services and support needed. State health care professionals ensure that the child’s medical, dental, and mental health needs are met.