OLYMPIA — The governor signed legislation today that will expand access to the guardianship assistance program. Senate Bill 5124, sponsored by Sen. Yasmin Trudeau (D-Tacoma), allows any court-appointed guardians who are licensed foster parents to be eligible for state subsidies, instead of just relatives licensed as foster parents.

“When kids can’t remain at home, being with a trusted community member simply leads to better outcomes,” said Trudeau. “My family relied on me to provide kinship support when they were in crisis. Having experienced the foster care system, I knew I had to do what I could to keep my family out of it.”

Guardianship is an intermediate path that a court can choose for a child, short of removing parental rights or of returning custody to the parent.

The bill also expands the situations when a child placed with a guardian is eligible for subsidies. In addition, it makes it easier for courts to place children with relatives or community members rather than in foster care.

“There are many suitable relatives and community members who love these children and want to provide them a safe place,” said Trudeau. “This legislation improves support for vulnerable children and families and lowers costs for the state in the long term.”

The legislation passed unanimously in both chambers. It goes into effect July 23.