Placement of Children With Relatives - Arkansas

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Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 9-27-355; 9-27-303(26)

When the court determines that a child shall be removed from their home, the Department of Human Services shall conduct an immediate assessment to locate the following:

  • A noncustodial parent of the child
  • Recommended relatives of the child, including each grandparent and all parents of the child's sibling if the parent has custody of the sibling
  • Fictive kin

If no safety issue was identified in a child maltreatment central registry check or criminal background check regarding all the persons identified in the previous section, the department shall provide, in writing, to those persons the following notice:

  • A statement saying that the child has been or is being removed from their parent
  • An explanation concerning how to participate and be considered for care, placement, and visitation with the child
  • Information needed for a child welfare safety check and home study, if the person is interested in placement
  • Information about provisional relative foster care, fictive kin, and other supportive benefits available through the department
  • A statement saying that failure to respond timely may result in the loss of opportunities to be involved in the care, placement, and visitation with the child
  • The name, number, email, and physical address of the caseworker and supervisor assigned to the case

A relative or fictive kin identified by the department shall be given preferential consideration for placement if they meet all relevant protective standards, and it is in the best interests of the child to be placed with them.

A 'fictive kin' is a person selected by the department who meets the following criteria:

  • Is not related to a child by blood or marriage
  • Has a strong, positive, and emotional tie or role in the child's life or the child's parent's life if the child is an infant

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 9-27-355; 9-28-402(17)

The court may transfer custody to any relative recommended by the department or the parent upon review of a home study, including criminal background and central registry checks, and a finding that custody is in the best interests of the child. Placement of a child in the home of a relative or fictive kin shall not relieve the department of its responsibility to actively implement the goal of the case.

For placement with a relative or fictive kin, the following apply:

  • The child and the child's siblings or stepsiblings may be placed in the home of a relative or fictive kin on a provisional basis for up to 6 months pending the relative or fictive kin's home being opened as a regular foster home.
  • If the relative or fictive kin opts to have their home opened as a provisional foster home, the relative or fictive kin shall not be paid a board payment until their home is opened as a regular foster home.
  • If the relative or fictive kin's home is not fully licensed as a foster home after 6 months of the placement of the children in the home, either of the following will occur:
    • The department shall remove the child and any of the siblings or stepsiblings from the relative or fictive kin's home and close the provisional foster home.
    • The court shall transfer custody of the child from the department to the relative or fictive kin.

The term 'provisional foster home' means a foster home opened for no more than 6 months for a relative or fictive kin after the department does the following:

  • Determines that placement with the proposed fictive kin or relative is in the best interests of the child
  • Conducts a health and safety check, including a central registry check and a criminal background check or a check with local law enforcement, of the relative's home
  • Performs a visual inspection of the home to verify that the relative's home will meet the standards for opening a regular foster home

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-28-108

When it is in the best interests of each of the children, the department shall attempt to do the following:

  • Place a sibling group together while they are in foster care and adoptive placement
  • Place an infant of a minor birth parent together with the minor birth parent in foster care

The terms used in this section are defined as follows:

  • 'Fictive kin' means a person selected by the Division of Children and Family Services to whom the following applies:
    • Is not related to a child by blood or marriage
    • Has a strong, positive, and emotional tie or role in the child's life or the child's parent's life if the child is an infant
  • 'Relative' means a person within the fifth degree of kinship by virtue of blood or adoption.

For placement with a relative or fictive kin, the child and their siblings or stepsiblings may be placed in the home of a relative or fictive kin of the child on a provisional basis no more than 6 months pending the home of the relative or fictive kin being opened as a regular foster home. If the relative or fictive kin chooses to have their home opened as a provisional foster home, the relative or fictive kin shall not be paid a board payment until the following occur:

  • The relative or fictive kin meets all the foster home requirements.
  • The home of the relative or fictive kin is opened as a regular foster home.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 9-9-102; 9-28-402

In all custodial placements for adoption made by the department, preferential consideration shall be given to an adult relative over a nonrelated caregiver.

The term 'relative' means a person within the fifth degree of kinship by virtue of blood or adoption.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 9-9-102; 9-9-212

Preference to the relative caregiver will be given when the relative meets all relevant child protection standards, and it is in the child's best interests to be placed with the relative caregiver.

A home study shall be conducted by any licensed child welfare agency or any licensed certified social worker. The home study shall contain an evaluation of the prospective adoption with a recommendation as to the granting of the petition for adoption and shall include the following:

  • A State-of-residence criminal background check, if available, and national fingerprint-based criminal background check on the adoptive parents and all household members aged 18 1/2 and older, excluding children in foster care
  • A child maltreatment central registry check for all household members aged 14 and older, excluding children in foster care, if such a registry is available in their State of residence

The court may waive the requirement for a home study when a stepparent is the petitioner, or the petitioner and the minor are related to each other in the second degree.

Unless directed by the court, a detailed, written health history and genetic and social histories of the child are not required if either of the following apply:

  • The petitioner is a stepparent.
  • The petitioner and the child to be adopted are related to each other within the second degree of kinship.