Placement of Children With Relatives - Indiana

Date: September 2022

Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-34-3-4.5; 31-9-2-117.3; 31-9-2-35.5; 31-34-4-2

Within 30 days after the removal of the child from the parents, the Department of Child Services shall exercise due diligence to identify and provide notice of the removal to the following:

  • All adult relatives of the child, including relatives suggested by either parent
  • All the child's siblings who are at least age 18

The department may not provide notice to a person listed above if the department knows or suspects that the person has caused family or domestic violence. The notice must include the following:

  • State that the child has been removed from the parents
  • Set forth the options the relative may have under Federal or State laws, including the care and placement of the child and other options that may be lost if the relative fails to respond to the notice
  • Describe the requirements for the relative to become a foster parent
  • Describe additional services available to the child placed in foster care
  • Describe how a relative guardian of a child may subsequently enter into an agreement with the department to receive financial assistance through the adoption or guardianship assistance program

The term 'sibling' means the following:

  • A sibling by blood, half-blood, or adoption
  • Any other individual who would be considered a sibling if parental rights had not been terminated

A 'de facto custodian' is a person who has been the primary caregiver for and financial support of a child who has resided with the person for at least 6 months if the child is younger than age 3 or 1 year if the child is age 3 and older.

If the court orders out-of-home placement for a child, the department is responsible for that placement and must consider placing the child with a suitable and willing blood or an adoptive relative caregiver, including a grandparent, a parent's sibling, or the child's adult sibling; a de facto custodian; or a stepparent before considering any other out-of-home placement.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-34-4-2

Before the child is placed with a blood or adoptive relative caregiver, a de facto custodian, or a stepparent, the department shall complete an evaluation based on a home visit of the relative's home. The department also shall conduct a criminal history check of each person who is currently residing in the location designated as the out-of-home placement.

Except as provided below, the department may not make an out-of-home placement if either of the following applies:

  • The person has committed an act resulting in a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect.
  • The person has been convicted of a nonwaivable offense listed in § 31-9-2-84.8 or had a juvenile adjudication for an act that would be a nonwaivable offense if committed by an adult.

A court may order or the department may approve an out-of-home placement if a person has a record of substantiated child abuse or neglect or conviction of certain felonies if the court makes a written finding that the person's commission of the offense, delinquent act, or act of abuse or neglect is not relevant to the person's present ability to care for a child, and that the placement is in the best interests of the child. However, a court or the department may not make an out-of-home placement if the person has been convicted of a nonwaivable offense listed in § 31-9-2-84.8 that is not specifically excluded under this section.

In making its written finding, the court shall consider the following:

  • The length of time since the person committed the offense, delinquent act, or abuse or neglect
  • The severity of the offense, delinquent act, or abuse or neglect
  • Evidence of the person's rehabilitation, including the person's cooperation with a treatment plan, if applicable

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-28-5-2; 31-28-5-3

The department shall make reasonable efforts to promote sibling visits for every child who is placed in foster care, including visits when one sibling is in foster care and another sibling is not.

A child; a child's foster parent; a child's guardian ad litem; a court-appointed special advocate; or an agency that has the legal responsibility or authorization to care for, treat, or supervise a child may request the department to permit the child to have visits with the child's sibling if the child or the child's sibling, or both, are in foster care. If the department finds that the sibling visits are in the best interests of each child who is in foster care, the department shall permit the sibling visits and establish a schedule for sibling visits.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-8-5(c)

A court hearing a petition for adoption of a child may waive the reports of the adoption investigation and social study if one of the petitioners is a stepparent or grandparent of the child and the court waives the period of supervision.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-8-5(d)

If the court waives the reports required by this section, the court shall require the licensed child-placing agency for a child who is not adjudicated to be a child in need of services or, if the child is the subject of an open child in need of services action, each local office to ensure that a criminal history check is conducted and to report to the court the results of the criminal history check.