The Kinship Project at Legal Aid is a vital initiative that addresses the needs of children in Broward County who are not being cared for by their biological parents. We aim to provide essential services to relative and non-relative caregivers to establish and maintain stability within the caregiver’s household. This stability can be achieved through various legal means, including temporary custody orders, guardianships, adoptions, and more. The Kinship Project at Legal Aid is a program funded by the Children’s Services Council of Broward County, Florida.
Collaborating with Kids in Distress, Memorial Healthcare System, and Harmony Development, who provide social services in the home, the Kinship Project offers critical legal services to kinship families throughout Broward County. We offer legal services to caregivers of children from birth to 18 years of age, and up to 22 years of age, if they have special needs.
Temporary Custody. Temporary Custody provides caregivers with the legal authority to make decisions concerning the minor child’s medical, educational, and other needs. To be eligible for temporary custody, the caregiver must have physical custody of the child(ren), meaning that the child(ren) lives with the caregiver. The caregiver does not have to be a relative but must have a familial or qualifying relationship with the child, referred to as “fictive kin.” If the parents do not agree with the temporary custody petition, the court demands clear and convincing proof that the parents have abused, abandoned, or neglected the minor child(ren) before granting a custody order. The temporary custody order can remain in effect until the child reaches 18 years of age or until a parent proves, to the court, that they are fit to care for the minor child(ren).
Adoption. Adoption is a process that allows caregivers to become the legal parents of the child(ren) in their care. When birth parents consent to adoption, they surrender their parental rights. In cases where parents do not agree, the adoption process through family court can be very challenging. Providing sufficient proof to permanently terminate parental rights is a complex process. While no blood relation is necessary to petition for adoption, there are additional requirements for non-relative caregivers.
Guardianship and Guardian Advocacy. We serve non-parent caregivers of minor children and youth through Guardian Advocacy and/or Guardianship representation. These services are available to qualifying caregivers of minor children or disabled persons up to 22 years of age who need assistance after the age of eighteen (18).
Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is a legal document signed by parents authorizing non-parent caregivers to make decisions on behalf of the child(ren). A Power of Attorney does not involve the court system and can be revoked by the parent, at any time. It is a suitable option when parents are actively involved in the child’s life and readily available when needed. Note that some service providers, especially medical professionals, may not accept a Power of Attorney. This authorization can be provided to any adult caring for a minor child(ren). There is no requirement of a familial relation.
Assessment and referrals. Beyond the provision of direct legal services, the Kinship Project assesses the family’s needs and makes referrals to other Legal Aid units or agencies, as necessary. This may include the Immigration Unit, Education Unit, Public Benefits Assistance, and more.
For eligibility questions call 954.736.2430