A ward of the state is a child or adult who is in the legal custody of the state. Wards are often adults who are unable to take care of themselves or minor children who do not have a fit legal guardian.
Children often become wards of the state due to neglect, abandonment or abuse by their biological parents. Guardians are appointed by the state to protect a ward and held to a high degree of responsibility. Since they are able to exercise a considerable amount of authority over the life of their ward, guardians are subject to ongoing oversight by the court after their appointment.