DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 18: Financial Support Systems

18-8 KinGAP - Relative Kinship Guardian Assistance Payment Program
Financial Support Systems
18-8  KinGAP- Relative Kinship Guardian Assistance Payment Program
Reference Points
Basic Eligibility Criteria
For What Programs/Services/Funding Are Youth Receiving KinGAP Eligible
Social Worker Action to Initiate KinGAP Application
Closing the CWS/CMS Case and Setting Up the KinGAP File
KinGAP Reassessments
Budgeting Rules
Provision of Services to KinGAP Cases
Caregiver's Required Agreements
Caregiver's Reporting Responsibilities
Caregiver's Rights
Child's Rights and Responsibilities

Reference Points
Effective Date: 9/1/09
Last Updated: 11/7/13
 Legal Basis:
pdf All County Letter (ACL) #11-67: Case Plan and KinGAP Guardianship Assistance Payments
pdf ACL # 11-09: New Kinship Guardianship Assistance (KinGAP) Payment Requirements
Popup Window California Senate Bill 1901, Chapter 1055
PDF All County Letter (ACL) 01-64: Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment Program (KinGAP) Questions and Answers
PDF ACL 07-13: Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment Program (KinGAP) Enhancements
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 361.3
Popup Window SSA DEBS Foster Care Handbook- Chapter 34
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
PDF Agency-Relative Guardianship Disclosure (SOC 369)


Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment (KIN-GAP) Program Agreement Amendment (SOC369A)
MS Word Placement/Address Change (SCZ17)
pdf KinGAP Mutual Agreement for Non-Minor Former Dependents (KG3)


The Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment (KinGAP) program was established by Senate Bill 1901 (Chapter 1055, Statutes of 1998). The KinGAP Program became available to those children exiting the juvenile court dependency system on or after January 1, 2000 to live with a relative legal guardian. In 2006, Assembly Bill 1808 (Chapter 75, Statutes of 2006) extended the provisions of the KinGAP program to probation youth exiting the delinquency system to live with a related guardian.  The intent of the KinGAP legislation is to provide a continuum of choices for the relative, the agency, and the courts to allow the most appropriate permanency plan for dependent and delinquent children.

Effective January 1, 2011, regulations were established that made significant changes to the KinGAP program.  Most significant was that KinGAP became a federally funded program for those children who qualified for Title IV-E funding.  The state funded KinGAP program became available to those children who do not qualify for Title IV-E funding but meet all other requirements for the KinGAP program.

Effective January 1, 2012, legislation extended KinGAP eligibility through a youth’s 21st birthday, if they meet certain criteria. 

Effective January 1, 2013, the definition of a “relative” for KinGAP purposes was significantly broadened, so that the youth living with non-related guardians may also be eligible for KinGAP.   

The KinGAP Program offers a subsidy that is 100% of the basic foster care rate, based upon age.  Supplemental payments are made for those children who qualify for Special Care Increments.   Regulations require that every two years the child be reassessed by the Department of Family and Children's Services and that the guardians complete a financial redetermination by the Social Services Agency Department of Eligibility and Benefits
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Basic Eligibility Criteria  

The law now requires that if a youth is with a relative guardian and has lived with the guardian for six months or more, the case MUST be closed unless:

1) The relative guardian objects, or 2) exceptional circumstances exist to justify keeping the case open.

Further, a relative caregiver's participation in KinGAP is strictly voluntary and not mandated by any regulations or statutes. Each family's situation is unique; therefore, the decision regarding a child's permanent plan must be mutual between the county, the relative, and child where age appropriate, in order to ensure that the alternative chosen will be successful. 

In order for a county social worker to recommend that a child exit foster care and receive KinGAP, the proposed relative guardian must be assessed according to the criteria in Welfare and Institutions Code Section 361.3.  

The definition of a relative for KinGAP now includes:

  • An adult related to the child by the 5th degree.
  • An approved non-related extended family member.
  • An adult member of the child's tribe.
  • An adult who is a current foster parent of the child and who has established a significant family-like relationship with the child, as long as the Department enters into an agreement identifying this adult as the child's permanent connection.  

The basic requirements for eligibility for KinGAP are:

  • The child must have resided with the relative caregiver for at least six (6) consecutive months as a court-ordered placement; a voluntary placement agreement; or a previously approved guardian’s home. 
    • Any time spent living with the relative in an “informal” situation does not count toward the 6 consecutive month period.
  • Legal Guardianship must be established with the relative caregiver.
  • Dependency must be dismissed at the same time or after the establishment of the Legal Guardianship by the Juvenile Court.
  • The child must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. national or have a lawful immigration status.
  • The following documentation must appear in the CWS/CMS case plan:
    1. A description of the steps the agency has taken to determine that it is not appropriate for the child to be returned home or adopted;
    2. The reason(s) for any separation of siblings during placement;
    3. The reason(s) why a permanent placement (guardianship) with a fit and willing relative through a kinship guardianship assistance arrangement is in the child's best interests;
    4. The ways in which the child meets the eligibility requirements for a kinship guardianship assistance payment;
    5. The efforts the agency has made to discuss adoption by the child's relative foster parent as a more permanent alternative to legal guardianship and, in the case of a relative foster parent who has chosen not to pursue adoption, documentation of the reason(s); and
    6. The efforts made by the agency to discuss with the child's parent(s) the kinship guardianship assistance arrangement, or the reasons why the efforts were made not made.  
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For What Programs/Services/

Funding Are Youth Receiving KinGAP Eligible


Youth under a relative guardianship established in juvenile dependency court and receiving KinGAP are eligible for:

  • Monthly payments equal to the basic foster care rates
  • Annual Clothing Allowance
  • Medi-Cal
  • Special Care Increment
  • Independent Living Skills Program (ILP), when the youth reaches 16-years-old
  • Dual Agency Rate
  • Infant Supplement
  • Social Security benefits, if eligible under Social Security criteria
  • Extended KinGAP payments (under AB12), if KinGAP payments began when the youth was 16 years old or older
  • Allowance for Funeral Expenses
  • Continued KinGAP payments if the parent moves into the home of the relative guardian


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Social Worker Action to Initiate KinGAP  

When the social worker anticipates recommending that a guardianship be established in cases where relatives are the child’s caregiver, the Social Worker must get the Agency/Relative Guardianship Disclosure (SOC369) signed by the guardian before the guardianship is established. 

The SOC369 is a written binding agreement entered into by the relative guardian and the county welfare agency, i.e. DFCS.  At the hearing at which the Social Worker recommends the guardianship, the Social Worker should also recommend that dependency be dismissed in conjunction with the establishment of the guardianship.

With the new KinGAP regulations, limited child welfare monitoring is provided to the relative guardians in the form of a reassessment of the child every two years.  However, the guardian may contact the Social Worker assigned to the case at any time to request a reassessment.

When a relative guardianship is pending the Social Worker:

  • Calls Foster Care Eligibility at (408) 271-7400 and requests that a KinGAP Information Sheet (SCD21) be generated for the prospective guardian child who is a current eligibility case.
    • An eligibility worker takes down pertinent information from the social worker and verifies that the child meets all the basic requirements for the KinGAP program.
    • If the child qualifies, the eligibility worker completes basic eligibility information and funding rates on the SOC369.
    • The Foster Care Eligibility Bureau is located at 373 W. Julian, 5th floor.
  • Receives the SOC369 along with the partially completed SCD21 from the eligibility worker with basic eligibility information completed and the next reassessment date.
  • Schedules an appointment to meet with the family, assesses the child(ren), reviews the SOC369 with the guardians, and has them sign it.
    • The SOC369 must be signed before guardianship is ordered by the court. 
  • Reviews the Guardianship Pamphlet and Permanency Options Guide with the prospective guardians, if not already done.
  • Completes a Child Support Determination – Good Cause (CW51) for each guardian child, if there is not an existing CW51 in the case file that was completed by the Dependent Intake social worker.
    • Social Workers make a determination of good cause for not sending a referral to child support.
  • Attaches the SOC 369 to the Court report and proceeds with the court hearing recommending guardianship and dismissal of the dependency case.


After guardianship is ordered by the court and the case is dismissed, the social worker:

  • Submits to the eligibility worker:
    • Original SOC369 signed by the guardian
    • CW51
      • Social workers make a determination of good cause to not send a referral to child support.
    • Letters of Guardianship with the State seal, and
    • The court Minute Order stating that dependency is dismissed.
      • After receiving the required documents, the KinGAP eligibility worker sends the KinGAP application packet to the relative guardian. 


  • Works with the eligibility worker to ensure that all documents needed to establish KinGAP have been completed and received by the eligibility worker.


 Dependent Intake Clerical:

  • After the court orders the guardianship, inputs “guardianship established” court results from the scratch calendar into CWS/CMS.
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Closing the CWS/CMS Case and Setting Up the KinGAP File  

Social Worker:

  • Prepares the case for closure.
    • Make copies of the following documents:
      • CAT Closure Tool
      • Agency-Relative Guardianship Disclosure (SOC 369)
      • Letter of Guardianship
      • Latest court report
      • Birth Certificate
      • Social Security Card
      • DFCS Special Funds (SCZ414Z) – SCI, if applicable
      • Any other documents that may be useful for future reference
  • Completes a Placement/Address Change (SCZ17), Scenario I and submits it to the Placement Tracking Team (PTT).
    • PTT uses “Guardianship Established, Relative ” as the Placement Episode Ending reason.
  • Attaches the above list of copied documents on top of the case file before submitting to Clerical Staff.
  • Attaches a half memo sheet with a request that a KinGAP folder be set up.
  • Submits the case file with the attached documents and memo to the supervisor for case closing.

Social Work Supervisor:

  • Prepares the case for closure using usual steps for closing.
  • Uses “KinGAP” as the Case Closure Reason Type to close the case in CWS/CMS.
  • Submits the case file to Continuing Clerical staff with copied documents and memo attached to the top of the file for preparation of KinGAP folder.
  • If reassigning a KinGAP case: 
  • Sends an email to the Dependent Intake Office Management Coordinator and Dependent Intake Control Clerk to notify the reassignment of the KinGAP case.
  • The email should include the name of the social worker, name of the guardian, the guardian's address and phone number, the child's name, and the case number. 


Continuing Clerical:

  • Prepares a label with the case name (child’s name) and case number and applies it to the brown KinGAP Relative Guardianship folder.
  • Inserts the documents attached to the case file into the brown KinGAP folder.
  • Applies a 2x4 “Relative Guardianship Case” label to each volume of the case file to be sent to the Retention Center.
    • This will indicate that there is a parallel case for this child with additional information.
  • Returns the brown KinGAP folder to the assigned social worker.
  • Sends the case file(s) to the Retention Center.
  • Sends an email to the Dependent Intake Office Management Coordinator and Dependent Intake Control Clerk to notify of the KinGAP case.
    • The email should include the name of the social worker, name of the guardian, the guardian's address and phone number, the child's name, and the case number.

If the KinGAP case has closed:

  • Call the case from retention and file the KinGAP case with the Court file.  Sends an email to the Dependent Intake Office Management Coordinator and Dependent Intake Control Clerk to notify that the KinGAP case has closed. Dependent Intake Control Clerk will update the KinGAP listing that the case has closed. 

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KinGAP Reassessments  

Every two years, a reassessment of a guardian child receiving KinGAP must be completed.  To complete the reassessment, the social worker:

  • Receives a packet from clerical approximately 60 days before the reassessment due date with the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment (KinGAP) Program Agreement Amendment (SOC369A).
  • Either schedules an in-person visit to reassess the child or contacts the guardian and guardian child by phone to inquire about the child's status.
    • If the social worker has never met the guardian family in-person, an in-person visit is required at the time of the reassessment.
  • Obtains the guardians' signatures on the SOC369A.
    • If the contact is by phone, the SOC369A may be mailed to the guardian.
  • Documents the contact on a SOC909.
  • Initiates or updates supplemental payments as applicable.
  • Requests an updated SOC369A from the Eligibility Bureau, if a supplemental payment is initiated or renegotiated at the time of the reassessment
  • Submits the signed SOC369A to the eligibility Foster Care Eligibility Bureau, 373 W. Julian, 5th floor.
  • If a Guardian refuses or does not want services, return the RR packet to Natalie Faulds, 5th floor, with a brief memo stating that the Guardian is refusing/declining services and the reason why.  The inforamtion will be documented and the RR packet and memo will be forwarded to Eligibility. 
  • If the KinGAP case has closed, notify Foster Care Eligibility, Dependent Intake Office Management Coordinator and Dependent Intake Control Clerk that the case has closed.  Give the case file to the Continuing Clerical Unit to send to retention. 


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Budgeting Rules  

See the Social Services Agency Department of Employment and Benefits (DEBS) Foster Care Handbook, Chapter 34 for detailed information.


  • To be eligible for KinGAP, a child must be under the age of 18.
  • Prior to entering the KinGAP Program, the child may have been receiving either federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children - Foster Care (FC) or California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) payments.
  • A child who is eligible for Title IV-E foster care funds is eligible for federal KinGAP funding, if the child meets all other criteria for KinGAP.
  • A child who was not eligible for Title IV-E foster care funding is eligible for state KinGAP funding, if the child meets all other criteria for KinGAP.
  • Once a relative chooses to become a legal guardian and the court has dismissed the dependency, if the relative chooses to apply for income benefits, the relative may only choose between CalWORKs and KinGAP, when the child is eligible for both.
    • The relative may apply for CalWORKs payments.
    • The relative is not required to apply for any income benefits even though the child may be eligible for them.  
  • All children receiving KinGAP are entitled to the annual supplemental clothing allowance based on the payment county payment rate.
  • Special Care Increment (SCI) rates may be initiated at any point while the guardians receive KinGAP funds. 
  • SCI payments may be renegotiated while the guardians receive KinGAP funds.
  • As in foster care, when a child has a birthday which puts him/her in a higher age bracket, an automatic increase to the basic rate is granted.
  • KinGAP benefits can continue to be paid on behalf of the child until the age of 21 as long as the youth:
    • Signs a mutual agreement and meets one of the participation conditions;
    • The Guardian is responsible for reporting to the Department if the youth fails to meet any of the requirements.
    • Continues to live with his or her KinGAP Guardian.
  • A child may receive KinGAP benefits to age 21 if he or she has a physical disability that warrants the continuation of assistance.
  • If the caregiver moves to another county, the KinGAP rate is based on the county rates in which the court had jurisdiction over the legal guardianship.
  • KinGAP recipients may move out of the state of California.
    • Kin-GAP payments are paid to a caregiver living out-of-state.
      • The KinGAP rate for out of state residences are based on the rate of the state in which the KinGAP child resides. 
    • The KinGAP child must have been a dependent of a California Court and dependency dismissed after January 1st, 2000.
  • Social Security Survivor's Benefits (SSA) paid to a KinGAP child is income to the child and is counted in total as a dollar for dollar reduction against the KinGAP payment.
  • Social Security Disability Benefits paid to a KinGAP child are income to the child and must be treated in accordance with the $225 disregard regulations.
    • Check with the DEBS KinGAP eligibility worker for further details.
  • Redetermination of eligibility for all children receiving KinGAP benefits must be performed at least every two years.
  • Reassessments of the child must be completed at least every two years.
  • If the youth receiving KinGAP payments marries, the youth is automatically emancipated and the legal guardianship terminated.  Accordingly, the youth would no longer be eligible for KinGAP, as there would no longer be a valid guardianship.


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Provision of Services by the Social Worker  

Provision of services by the social worker:


  • KinGAP child(ren) are not eligible for CalWORKs Employment Services Stage One child care services. Only needy caretaker guardians who are participating in Welfare-to-Work activities are eligible for child care through the CalWORKs program.


  • A relative guardian receiving KinGAP payment on behalf of the guardian child is not eligible for child care subsidy for the guardian child
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Caregiver's Required Agreements  

Caregivers who receive KinGAP payments on behalf of their guardian child must agree to certain responsibilities.  Those responsibilities include:

  • To give the Agency information on the child’s immigration status if requested.
  • To give the Agency the Social Security Number (SSN) for each applicant or recipient of KinGAP or to give proof to the Agency that the caregiver has applied for a SSN within 30 days of application for KinGAP and give the SSN to the Agency when issued.
  • To give proof that the child if of school age is attending school.
  • To assure that a child under six-years-old receives age appropriate immunizations.
  • To agree to cooperate with having a social worker to come to the caregiver’s home at any time to verify facts, including seeing each family member, without an appointment.
  • To apply for any other income benefits to which the caregiver may eligible, such as Disability benefits or Veteran’s benefits.
  • To be willing to cooperate with the locating of absent parents in pursuit of child support.
    • Non-referral to child support may continue if the social worker determines that it is in the child’s best interest.
  • To cooperate with identifying the paternity of the child.


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Caregiver's Reporting Responsibilities   A caregiver who receives KinGAP payments on behalf of a guardian child has a duty to report to the Agency all changes related to the child within five (5) days of the change.  Those changes include when:
  • For a youth over 18, report if he or she isn’t meeting the participation criteria.  
  • The child receives money from any source, including employment, a settlement, and inheritance.
  • The child age 16 or older starts or stops school, college, or training.
  • The child moves out of the caregiver’s home.
  • The child gets married, separated, divorced, or dies.
  • The child’s physical or mental illness begins or ends.
  • The child becomes pregnant or gives birth.
  • The child or caregiver goes to or is released from jail or prison or juvenile hall.
  • The child’s parents move into the home.
  • Telling the Agency about medical coverage or money for medical services paid by either parent. 


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Caregiver's Rights  

The caregiver who receives KinGAP payments on behalf of a guardian child has certain rights which include the right:

  • To tell the Department if the child has a disability and needs help applying for or continuing to receive KinGAP cash aid, benefits, and services.
  • To continue getting KinGAP and Medi-Cal benefits without a break, if the caregiver moves from one county to another if the child remains eligible.
  • To file a grievance if the caregiver does not agree with an action taken by the Department.


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The Child's Rights and Responsibilities  

The child who is eligible for the KinGAP program has certain rights and responsibilities under the program.  There are also some limitations.

The rights, responsibilities, and limitations for the youth include:

  • Being eligible for Independent Living Program (ILP) services when the youth attains the age of 16 and the child requests ILP services.  Refer to OPP 6-7, Independent Living Skills Program (ILP) for further information on ILP referral process).
  • Continuation of Infant Supplements and/or the $200 Whole Family Foster Home payment if the youth received these supplements while a dependent of the court.
  • Not being eligible for the Chafee Educational/Training Voucher unless the youth remains in foster care until age 16 prior to the transfer to KinGAP.
  • Not being eligible for the Transitional Housing Program or the Transitional Housing Program Plus.
  • Permission to have dedicated savings accounts.
    • These accounts can be utilized to save money for the purchase of a home, to pay for education or training, or to start a new business.
  • Eligibility to apply for Medi-Cal benefits at age 18 so that the child may receive Medi-Cal to age 21.


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Other Information and References  

A child may return to foster care from KinGAP and receive foster care payments if:

    • There is a valid (court or voluntary placement agreement) authority for placement and

All other eligibility requirements are met.


Other References:

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