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What is a ward of the state?

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.

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About the Author

Adeeba Folami is a freelance journalist residing in Denver, Colo. She was first published professionally in 1994. Folami's work has appeared in many publications, including "Denver Weekly News," "Afro American Newspapers," "Louisiana Weekly," "Dallas Weekly," "Mississippi Link," and "OpEd News."

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