A ward of the state is an adult or child whose guardianship is determined by a judge who appoints a government agency to oversee the ward of the state's affairs.
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A ward of the state has no relatives, friends, or other parties who are willing or able to serve as a guardian.
A ward of the state often suffers from developmental disabilities, mental illness, retardation or is otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated.
A ward of the state is often housed in an institution.
In the past, a ward of the state was most likely an adult over 65, but the category has evolved to encompass individuals of all ages.
In some states, a foster child is also referred to as a ward of the state or a ward of the court, if the child is in the custody of a government welfare agency.
The Old English phrase "ward in chancery" was popularly used before ward of the state became an accepted legal term in America.