Placement of Children With Relatives - Alaska

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Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Alaska Stat. §§ 47.14.100; 47.10.990

When a child is removed from a parent's home, the Department of Health and Social Services shall search for an appropriate placement with an adult family member or family friend. The department, in the absence of clear and convincing evidence of good cause to the contrary, shall place the child as follows:

  • In the least restrictive setting that most closely approximates a family and that meets the child's special needs, if any
  • Within reasonable proximity to the child's home, while considering any special needs of the child and the preferences of the child or parent
  • With, in the following order of preference:
    • An adult family member, as defined below
    • A family friend who meets the foster care licensing requirements established by the department
    • A licensed foster home that is not an adult family member or family friend
    • An institution for children that has a program suitable to meet the child's needs

The term 'family friend,' as used in this section, includes, in the case of an Indian child, a member of the Indian child's Tribe, a member of the Tribe in which the child's biological parent is a member, and another Indian family member.

In this chapter, the term 'adult family member' means a person who is age 18 or older and who is any of the following:

  • Related to the child as the child's grandparent, a parent's sibling, or the child's sibling
  • The child's sibling's legal guardian or parent
  • In the case of an Indian child, an extended family member as defined in 25 U.S.C. § 1903

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.14.100

For the purpose of determining whether the home of a relative meets the requirements for placement of a child, the department shall conduct a criminal background check from State and national criminal justice information. The department may conduct a fingerprint background check on any member of the relative's household who is age 16 or older when the relative requests placement of the child.

Evidence of good cause not to place a child with an adult family member or family friend includes grounds for denial of a foster care license under § 47.35.019 or 47.35.021. Poverty or inadequate or crowded housing do not constitute good cause.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.14.100(r)

The department shall make reasonable efforts to place siblings in the same placement if the siblings are residing in the same home when taken into the custody of the department. If siblings are not placed together after reasonable efforts have been made, the case supervisor for the division with responsibility over the custody of children shall document in the file the efforts that were made and the reason that separating the siblings for placement purposes is in the best interest of the children. If it is in the best interests of the children to maintain contact, the department shall provide each sibling with contact information for the other sibling and encourage the children's caregivers to provide opportunities for contact between the siblings.

In this subsection, 'sibling' means two or more persons who are related by blood, adoption, or marriage as a child of one or both parents.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.10.990

The child may be adopted by an adult family member. An 'adult family member' is a person who is age 18 or older and who is any of the following:

  • Related to the child as the child's grandparent, sibling, or a parent's sibling
  • The child's sibling's legal guardian or parent
  • In the case of an Indian child, an extended family member as defined in 25 U.S.C. § 1903

The term 'family member' means a person of any age who is any of the following:

  • Related to the child as the child's grandparent, sibling, or parent's sibling
  • The child's sibling's legal guardian or parent
  • In the case of an Indian child, an extended family member as defined in 25 U.S.C. § 1903

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Alaska Stat. §§ 25.23.127; 25.23.100

Taking into consideration a child's stated preference under § 25.23.125(a) and consent given under § 25.23.040(a)(5), and unless the court finds that a petition to adopt the child by an adult family member is contrary to the best interests of the child, the court shall grant a petition to adopt a child by an adult family member who has had physical custody of the child for at least 12 consecutive months before the parental rights to the child have been terminated.

Unless directed by the court, an investigation and report are not required in cases in which the person to be adopted is within the fourth degree of lineal or collateral consanguinity to the petitioner.