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Issue Alert - 03-09-05

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Sep 29, 2003

Issue Summary:

FIA Policy is updated to provide that a child's legal guardian remains the protective payee for FIP payments for the child, even if the child is in the care of a parent.

Persons Affected:

Families in which the child is living in the same home as the parent(s) but the child has a legal guardian other than the parent(s).


Family Independence Program (FIP) cash assistance

What's Happening?

Effective October 1, 2003, PEM 210 and PAM 420 have been modified to provide that a child's legal guardian must remain as the payee for any FIP grant that includes the child, until the guardianship is legally terminated. The FIP grant will include the parent if the parent is in the child's home, but the parent may not be the payee as long as there is a legal guardianship in effect. This protects children from money mismanagement by the parent until a court determines that the parent is no longer unable to properly care for the child.This change does not change current policy which would require a parent on the FIP grant to comply with Work First or risk termination of the FIP grant. This policy change is in PEM 210 and PAM 420.

What Should Advocates Do?

Make sure that parents understand the consequences of a guardianship, including this FIP policy. Make sure that "kinship caregivers" understand that this protection is available if they become the child's legal guardian. Guardians should also be counseled about this risk if the parent lives in the same home as the guardian and child. If a parent is non-compliant and subsequently leaves the home, the child should once again be eligible for FIP. Make sure that "specified relatives" (close relatives listed in PEM 210) understand that they do not have to obtain legal guardianship in order to receive FIP for a child in their care, but that the FIP will be paid to the parent upon his or her return to the child's home unless a guardianship is in place.

What Should Clients Do?

Seek a guardianship when it is appropriate to your situation.Seek legal help in obtaining documents to authorize the caregiver to consent to medical care for the child and to place the child in school, in situations where the child is in a relative's care but a guardianship is not appropriate.

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.