Placement of Children With Relatives - Maine

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Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, §§ 4002; 4005-G

The term 'relative' means a family member related to the child within the third degree or any spouse of that family member. 'Relative' also includes the adoptive parent of the child's siblings. For an Indian child, the term 'relative' includes, an extended family member as defined by the law or custom of the Indian child's Tribe or, in the absence of such law or custom, an extended family member as defined by the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.

In the residential placement of a child, the Department of Health and Human Services shall consider giving preference to an adult relative over a nonrelated caregiver when determining placement for a child, if the adult relative meets all relevant State child protection standards.

Prior to filing a child protection petition, the department shall exercise due diligence to ask each individual that the department has identified as a parent of a child that is the subject of the petition to provide the names and contact information of the following:

  • Relatives who have provided care for the child on a temporary basis in the past
  • Relatives who the parent believes would be safe caregivers during family reunification under § 4041
  • Relatives who the parent believes would be able to serve as a safe resource to support family reunification, including by safely supervising visits between the parent and the child

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4005-G

Within 14 days of receiving information about a relative, the department shall conduct a background check on that relative unless the relative has informed the department that they do not want to provide a residential placement for the child or to serve as a safe resource for the child. The background check must include, at a minimum, obtaining public criminal history record information from the Maine Criminal Justice Information System and determining whether the relative has been the subject of a child abuse and neglect finding in this or another State.

The department is not required to consider residential placement of the child with a relative or use a relative as a safe resource if either of the following applies:

  • The department has substantiated any report of child abuse or neglect regarding that relative or a substantially equivalent determination regarding that relative has been made in another State.
  • The relative has been convicted of a criminal offense relevant to the relative's ability to provide a safe placement for the child or serve as a safe resource.

The department is not required to consider residential placement of a child with a relative who does not exercise due diligence to obtain a license as a family foster home, including by applying for a license, attending all required trainings, cooperating with a home study, and promptly addressing any problems identified by the department that prevent the department from granting the license. The department also is not required to consider or to continue residential placement of a child with a relative who has exercised due diligence to obtain a license as a family foster home but whose application for a license has been denied.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, §§ 4005-G; 4068

In the residential placement of a child, the department shall make reasonable efforts to place a child with all the child€™s siblings at the earliest possible time unless the placement is contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or one or more of the siblings. If placing a child with all the child€™s siblings is impossible or contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or one or more of the siblings, the department shall place the child with as many of the child€™s siblings as is possible and consistent with the safety and well-being of the child and the siblings.

If the court determines that it is reasonable, practicable, and in the best interests of the children involved, the court shall order the custodian of the child who is the subject of the child protection proceeding and any party who is the custodian of a sibling of the child to make the children available for visits with each other. The court may order a schedule and conditions pursuant to which the visits are to occur.

The department shall make reasonable efforts to establish agreements with prospective adoptive parents that provide for reasonable contact between an adoptive child and the child's siblings when the department believes that the contact will be in the children's best interests.

In a child protection proceeding, a child may request visiting rights with a sibling from whom the child has been separated because of the child protection proceeding.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, § 9-304

A blood relative may petition to adopt the child.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, §§ 9-304; 9-306

If the petitioner is a blood relative of the child, the court may waive the requirement of a home study and report.

The court shall request a background check for each prospective adoptive parent who is not the parent of the child. The background check must include a screening for child abuse cases in the records of the department and criminal history record information obtained from the Maine Criminal Justice Information System and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Expense payment limitations do not apply when one of the adoptive parents is a relative.