WINNIPEG -- A new guardianship program was announced on Thursday by the provincial government along with the General Child and Family Services (CFS) Authority.

Families Minister Rochelle Squires and Jay Rodgers, the CEO of General CFS Authority, made the announcement, with Squires saying this program will help "ensure that children grow up with their family members."

It is designed for those kids who are permanent wards or when a CFS agency is seeking a permanent order.

Squires said guardianship will be granted to family members who have been looking after the child for six months continuously or it can also be granted to another adult that the family and child view as family if they have been looking after the child for 24 continuous months.

She added that guardianship is approved by the child's culturally appropriate authority.

Rodgers said it is important that children grow up with family, as it has many benefits.

"This is good for kids," said Rodgers. "If kids grow up in a loving, stable, family home, they are more likely to have longer term positive health outcomes than if they don't grow up with family."

He added that research also shows that with guardianship programs, kids are less likely to go back into care and they are more likely to thrive as adults.

Rodgers said financial aid is available for those caregivers to make sure the needs of the kids are met and Squires noted the government is providing funding to each agency based on their specific needs.

The program is expected to take effect in the fall, with Rodgers noting training for staff needs to be done first, before the program goes live.

"We have been working very closely with our agencies on how best to implement this program. Agencies will likely be creating, at least initially, dedicated staff to implement the program. We can do that with the resources that we have. I don't think this is going to mean a substantial increase in workload."

The province said guardians are responsible for "ensuring a child's physical, social, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs are met at all times."

It added they are also in charge of making important decisions such as where to go to school, what recreational activities they participate in, medical treatments and day-to-day living.