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Issue Alert - 03-04-01

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Apr 17, 2003

Issue Summary:

Legal Guardians can keep FIP even if biological parent is in the home

Persons Affected:

Households that contain a court-appointed guardian for minor children, the children, and their biological parent


Family Independence Benefits (FIP) and and Kinship Caregivers

What's Happening?

FIA will be changing its policy so that legal guardians will continue to be the FIP grantee for their minor wards until the Court dismisses guardianship. This policy change will not be in the FIA manual for several months, but local offices are being told that guardians can be granted an administrative exception to the current policy until the manual item has been updated.

What Should Advocates Do?

Inform kinship caregiver groups and guardians of this new change in policy and make sure they know that an exception can be requested through the local FIA office. If there are problems at the local level, contact CCJ. CCJ has a letter from FIA Director Nanette Bowler confirming FIA's intention to change the policy and to provide exceptions to affected FIP groups in the meantime. FIA Memo L-03-064 is posted with the Public Benefits Reference materials on the MPLP web site (

What Should Clients Do?

Guardians who have lost FIP benefits because the biological parent of their wards is back in the home should ask their caseworker to have the grant switched back to them under the exception policy. If the client has problems he or she should seek help from a legal services advocate. CCJ will provide advocates a "pdf" copy of FIA's letter on this issue upon request. The parent will not be eligible for FIP benefits unless he or she is 1)the caregiver for another child not subject to a guardianship, or 2) the minor child of the guardian. If the guardian receives Food Stamps, FIA must add the biological parent to the guardian's Food Stamp "household" because federal law requires children under age 22 and their biological parents to be in the same household.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services office handle these type of cases, and they do not charge a fee. You can locate the "free" legal services or legal aid office that serves your county on the Michigan LawHelp website ( or look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738