Last week, Proskauer obtained a critical victory for our client—a grandmother acting as guardian for her two learning-disabled grandchildren—in an appeal to the Appellate Division, First Department. The appeal challenged a lower court holding that an amendment to New York’s Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (“KinGAP”) did not apply retroactively to beneficiaries, such as our client’s grandchildren, who entered the program before the amendment took effect.
KinGAP, established in 2011, enables foster-care children for whom returning home or adoption are not available options, to achieve a permanent placement with a guardian relative. To subsidize the costs of caregiving for guardians of limited means such as our client, KinGAP provides monthly assistance payments pursuant to a statutorily prescribed form of agreement between the guardian and a local department of social services.
When our client entered into a KinGAP agreement in 2014, New York Social Services Law § 458-b(7)(a) made the duration of the subsidy dependent on whether the agreement was entered into before or after the child’s 16th birthday. Continued assistance payments were available beyond the age of 18 only if the agreement commenced after the child was already 16 years of age. Section 458-b(7)(a) thus drew a distinction between foster parents and adoptive parents on the one hand and guardians on the other because foster and adoptive children were entitled to assistance payments until they turned 21 notwithstanding their age at the time their subsidy agreements were commenced.