Permanent Guardianship in Vermont

Permanent guardianship is a legal relationship, created in Family Court, between a child and relative or family friend.

When Can A Guardianship Be Established

The judge may establish a permanent guardianship during any hearing at which a legal disposition about permanence for the child can be made (e.g., during a child protection or delinquency proceeding). However, before a permanent guardianship can be established, the judge must find by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • The child is not likely to return home to the parents or be adopted within a reasonable period of time;
  • The child is at least 12 years old, unless the proposed guardian is a relative or permanent guardian for one of the child’s siblings;
  • The child has lived with the proposed guardian for at least a year (six months if the proposed guardian is a relative);
  • The proposed guardian is suitable;
  • The proposed guardian is able and willing to provide a safe, nurturing home for the child until he or she turns 18; and
  • Permanent guardianship is in the child’s best interests.

What Happens In A Guardianship

In a permanent guardianship, DCF is no longer involved; the guardian is responsible for the child’s day-to-day care, protection, and education; and the parents retain certain parental rights and responsibilities (e.g., the right to have contact with the child and the responsibility to pay child support).

Support Available

If you are granted permanent guardianship of a child who is in DCF custody, you might be eligible for guardianship assistance. 

This could include:

  • A monthly stipend;
  • Medicaid for the child, and
  • Reimbursement of certain non-recurring expenses.

For More Information

If you are interested in pursuing a permanent guardianship for a relative or friend's child who is in DCF custody, contact the child's social worker.

Permanent guardianships provide children with a sense of permanency and home, while allowing them to stay connected — to family, tradition, culture, and community.