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Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP)

The State of Florida offers the benefit of Guardianship Assistance payments to relatives and fictive kin that commit to providing long term care for children in Florida’s Child Welfare System and meet eligibility criteria. The Guardianship Assistance Program (also known as GAP) is governed by s. 39.6225, F.S. and is designed to provide additional services and supports to caregivers of children that were removed from their primary caregiver due to abuse or neglect.

For more information about this program please contact your local community-based care lead agency.

View the GAP brochure.

    When a child is not able to safety remain at home with their parents, or adopted, permanent guardianship with a family or like-family member who is willing and able to provide care for the child, is the next best alternative. Permanent guardianship allows the child to live with people they already know and trust.

    Families that meet the eligibility criteria for the Guardianship Assistance Program will have access to the following benefits:

    • Increased financial support for the child in the form of Guardianship Assistance payments;
    • Medicaid until the child reaches 18 years of age;
    • Nonrecurring assistance to assist with reaching the goal of permanent guardianship for the child;
    • College tuition exemption voucher; and
    • Increased community-based supports for caregivers and children.

    Under the Guardianship Assistance Program, caregivers are eligible to receive a minimum of $333 monthly payment per child once all eligibility criteria have been met.

    • To be eligible for Florida’s Guardianship Assistance Program, the eligibility criteria listed below must be met:
    • The child must be placed with a relative or fictive kin.
    • The child’s placement with the relative or fictive kin must have been approved by the court.
    • The relative or fictive kin has been licensed as a foster parent specific for the child they are seeking benefits for.
    • The relative or fictive kin has been eligible to receive a foster care room and board payment for the child for at least 6 consecutive months.
    • Guardianship Assistance Program language must be entered in the permanent guardianship case plan.
    • The court case MUST close in permanent guardianship.

    All children who receive a monthly GAP payment are eligible to receive health care through the Medicaid program until age 18. Some children are eligible for Medicaid until age 21. Upon moving out of the State, your child may no longer be eligible for Medicaid due to their initial IV-E status, which is determined at the time of the child’s initial removal from their home.

    While private forms of guardianship can be a financial burden to the caregiver, obtaining permanent guardianship through Florida's child welfare system costs nothing to the caregiver. The required educational resource hours and home study are provided free of charge, and even court costs and fees can be covered through the Department of Children and Families.

    Florida's children participating in GAP are eligible for free tuition at any Florida state university, community college or vocational school in Florida up until age 28. Additionally, some Florida private institutions of higher learning will provide free tuition for children who have been placed in permanent guardianship from foster care.

    The department works in partnership with local community-based care lead agencies to provide a wide-range of services and supports to assist GAP families. For more information on the services and/or supports available in your local community, please contact your local community based care agency.

    Families entering into a Guardianship Assistance Agreement when a child is age 16 or 17, may be eligible for the Extension of Guardianship Assistance Program if eligibility criteria is met. Eligibility criteria for the Extension of Guardianship Assistance Program includes the young adult participating in at least one of the following:

    • Completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential;
    • Enrolled in an institution that provides post-secondary or vocational education;
    • Participating in a program or activity designed to promote or eliminate barriers to employment;
    • Employed for at least 80 hours per month; or
    • Unable to participate in the programs or activities listed above due to a physical, intellectual, emotional, or psychiatric condition that limits participation. Any such barrier to participation must be supported by documentation in the child’s case file or school or medical records of a physical, intellectual, emotional, or psychiatric condition that impairs the child’s ability to perform one or more life activities.