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Faculty & Staff, Research, Community Impact

CFRC Releases Groundbreaking Research on Subsidized Guardianship in Illinois

March 01, 2024

Unrecognizable Father At Home With His Adorable Daughter In His Arms

About the studies

When children are removed from their homes due to maltreatment, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) strives to ensure they find loving, safe, stable, and permanent homes as swiftly as possible. However, recent statistics reveal that 46.4% of children and youth entering substitute care from DCFS in 2020 remained without a permanent home within three years. Notably, the challenge of securing permanent homes is exacerbated for Black children in substitute care, with less than half (47.1%) finding permanent homes within the same timeframe.

In 2021, 676 youth aged out of substitute care in Illinois without ever attaining a permanent home during their childhood, underscoring the urgency for innovative solutions.

The Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has conducted pioneering research aimed at securing permanent homes for children in foster care through subsidized guardianship. Subsidized guardianship, though underutilized, offers a promising pathway to permanency, particularly when reunification with birth parents is deemed unsafe. The expanded adoption of subsidized guardianship holds the potential to elevate permanency rates and mitigate racial disparities in the system.

Subsidized guardianship entails a family member, such as a grandmother or aunt, assuming the role of the child’s permanent caregiver while birth parents retain many of their parental rights and maintain regular visitation with their children. This approach allows families to sidestep the often traumatic experience of parental rights termination, preserving familial bonds where child safety permits.

CFRC’s research delves into professionals’ and caregivers’ perspectives on guardianship and adoption, examining the advantages and disadvantages of each permanency option. The studies also explore racial dynamics influencing the utilization of guardianship.

The research findings, encompassing reports, presentations, and research briefs, are accessible on CFRC’s Subsidized Guardianship page and include:

  1. The Caregiver Interview Study: An exploration of 11 long-term kin and fictive kin caregivers’ experiences in achieving adoption or guardianship for Black children in substitute care.
  2. The Caregiver Survey Study: Insights from 137 caregivers and their perspectives on the permanency process, adoption, and guardianship, including barriers and racial inequities.
  3. The Professional Interview Study: Interviews with 40 Illinois professionals involved in permanency work, assessing their opinions on subsidized guardianship and adoption and their perceptions of racial dynamics in permanency efforts.
  4. The Professional Survey Study: A survey capturing permanency professionals’ perspectives on various aspects including factors affecting the permanency process and racial disparities.

CFRC collaborated with the Translational Research Team of DCFS’ Office of Research and Child Well-Being, alongside students and volunteers from the School of Social Work, to conduct this research. Funding was provided by the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign through its Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice Research Program. DCFS administrators also served on the research projects Advisory Committee.

For inquiries about the research, please contact Ted Cross at

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