Placement of Children With Relatives - Delaware

Date: September 2022

Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 10, § 901; Admin. Code 14-900-936, § 4; Family Court Rules, Rule 211

The term 'relative' means any person within the immediate family and any grandparent, parent's sibling, first cousin, great-grandparent, grandparent's sibling, or the child's half-sibling.

In regulation: The term 'family' means a biological or adoptive parent and sibling but may be interpreted to include any person, whether related to a child by blood or not, who resides in a child's home, takes part in a child's family life, or has responsibility for or legal custody of a child.

In court rules: The court shall determine at a hearing whether the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF) used due diligence within 30 days of the removal of the child from the home to identify and to provide notice to all grandparents and adult relatives of the child (including any other adult relatives suggested by a parent), subject to exceptions due to family or domestic violence.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 31, § 351

Before any person or entity shall receive or retain in custody any dependent child residing in the State, such person or entity must first obtain a written assessment of the proposed placement, conducted by DSCYF or its licensed agency.

An assessment of the proposed placement of a dependent child shall not be required by DSCYF or its licensed agency if all the following conditions are met:

  • The child is placed in a home of an adult person who fails to meet the definition of 'relative' in § 901 of title 10, but the adult person is by marriage, blood, or adoption the child's great-grandparent, stepgrandparent, grandparent's sibling, half-sibling, stepsibling, stepparent, stepparent's sibling to the extent not already included in the definition of 'relative,' or first cousin once removed.
  • DSCYF has not currently filed, and does not intend to file, for custody of the child based on dependency or neglect.
  • There have been no prior or present allegations of abuse or neglect regarding the adult person with whom the child is placed.
  • DSCYF is not currently a party to a custody or visitation dispute regarding the child.
  • DSCYF does not hold or seek custody of the child.
  • The child meets the definition of 'dependent child' solely because the child has been placed on a permanent basis in the home of an adult person as previously described and has been placed with that person without an assessment by DSCYF or a licensed agency.

This section does not limit the family court's jurisdiction to hear a petition for guardianship of a child pursuant to chapter 23 of title 13, including granting of emergency relief, nor does this section limit the family court's determination of appropriate placement for a child in DSCYF custody pursuant to § 2521(1) of title 13.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Admin. Code 14-900-936, § 26

A child-placing agency shall have a written placement policy describing how the agency addresses the needs of siblings to remain together.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Ann. Code 13, § 904

No petition for adoption shall be presented unless, prior to the filing of the petition, the child sought to be adopted has been placed for adoption by the department, a licensed agency, or an authorized agency, and the placement has been supervised by the department or a licensed agency. No such placement or supervision shall be necessary in the case of the following:

  • A child sought to be adopted by a stepparent
  • A child sought to be adopted by a blood relative, except for placements under the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children
  • A child sought to be adopted by a guardian or permanent guardian, if guardianship or permanent guardianship has been granted for at least 6 months prior to filing the adoption petition

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, §§ 912; 913

Upon the filing of a petition for adoption, the judge of the family court in which the petition has been filed, after determining that the petition has been properly filed and that the petitioner or petitioners are eligible to adopt under this chapter, shall order a social study report by the department or licensed agency unless the report was filed with the petition. The social study shall include information regarding the background of the child, the adoptive parents and their home, the physical and mental condition of the child, and the suitability of the placement.

In the case of a child to be adopted by a stepparent, guardian, or a blood relative, the petition for adoption shall be filed only after the child has resided in the home of the petitioner for at least 1 year; except that, on recommendation of the department or licensed agency, a petition may be filed after 6 months of continuous residence of the child in the petitioner's home. In the case of adoption by a stepparent, guardian, or blood relative, it is not necessary that the child be legally free prior to the filing of the petition.