How Can I Make My Child a Ward of the State?

By Editorial Team

Updated July 21, 2017

Little girl on the street


The decision to make a child a ward of the state is never an easy one for a parent to make. Unfortunately, sometimes circumstances dictate this course of action. Parents who are unable to care for their child for a variety of reasons may opt to place them under the care of the state they live in. When a child becomes a ward of the state, the parents sign over custody to the appropriate organization on a permanent basis.

Discuss the situation with the other parent of the child. If neither of you are in a position to care for her, decide if placing her under the care of the state is an option.

Contact an attorney to discuss the process and determine your rights and responsibilities if you take this step. If you are unable to afford a lawyer, you may be able to receive legal assistance through your county's legal aid society.

Contact a counselor to discuss the emotional impact this move will have on you and your child.

Contact the human services department in your county once you are sure you want to make your child a ward of the state. Tell them what your intentions are and find out what is involved.

Make an appointment with the appropriate agency to begin the process of signing over your parental rights.

Follow all necessary steps and keep all appointments required to complete this process. Sign all papers and terminate your rights.

Place your child in the state's care, per their directions, when all paperwork is completed.


Consider additional counseling during and after this process, as it is likely to be an emotionally trying time.


Remember that this is usually an irreversible process and once it is done, you will have no claim to your child.