Placement of Children With Relatives - Maryland

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Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Fam. Law §§ 5-501; 5-534

The term 'kinship care' means continuous 24-hour care and supportive services provided to a minor child placed by a child-placing agency in the home of a person related by blood or marriage within the fifth degree of consanguinity or affinity under the civil law rule.

A 'kinship caregiver' is an individual with whom a child who is in the care, custody, or guardianship of the local department may be placed for temporary or long-term care other than adoption and who is approved by the local department.

The term 'kinship parent' means an individual who is related by blood or marriage within five degrees of consanguinity or affinity under the civil law rule to a child who is in the care, custody, or guardianship of the local department and with whom the child may be placed for temporary or long-term care other than adoption.

In selecting a placement that is in the best interests of a child in need of out-of-home placement, the local department shall, as a first priority, attempt to place the child with a kinship parent. The local department shall exhaust all reasonable resources to locate a kinship parent for initial placement of the child.

If no kinship parent is located at the time of the initial placement, either of the following apply:

  • The child shall be placed in a foster care setting.
  • As an alternative to foster care, the local department may place the child for initial placement with a kinship caregiver.

If a kinship parent or a kinship caregiver is located after the placement of a child in a foster care setting, the local department may, if it is in the best interests of the child, place the child with the kinship parent or kinship caregiver.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Fam. Law §§ 5-534; 5-551; Code of Regs. § 07.02.25.10

A kinship parent must be at least age 18. A kinship caregiver must be at least age 21.

The local department may approve a person as a kinship caregiver only if the following conditions are met:

  • The person is related to the child by blood or marriage beyond five degrees of consanguinity or affinity or is a close family friend of the child or the child's family.
  • The person has a strong familial or other significant bond to the child or the child's family.
  • The individual has maintained regular contact with the child or the child's family sufficient to demonstrate strong familiarity with the child's activities and daily needs.
  • Placement with the person is in the child's best interests.

A State and national criminal history records check is required for the adult relative of a child with whom the child, committed to a local department, is placed by the local department. A State and national criminal history records check also is required for any adult known to be residing in the home of the adult relative.

In regulation: The local department may not approve any home in which any of the following applies to an adult in the household:

  • Has a felony conviction for child abuse or neglect; spousal abuse; a crime against children; child pornography; or a crime of violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide
  • In the preceding 5 years, has a felony conviction for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense
  • Has an indicated finding of child abuse or neglect

The local department also shall assess the relative with particular attention given their present ability to protect the child placed in their home. An initial home inspection to verify that the home is physically safe and appropriate also shall be completed.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-525.2

A local department shall place together siblings who are in an out-of-home placement under § 5-525 of this subtitle if the following are true:

  • It is in the best interests of the siblings to be placed together.
  • Placement of the siblings together does not conflict with a specific health or safety regulation.

If placement of the siblings together conflicts with a specific health or safety regulation, the local department may place the siblings together if the local department makes a written finding describing how placement of the siblings together serves the best interests of the siblings.

Any siblings who are separated due to a foster care or adoptive placement may petition a court, including a juvenile court with jurisdiction over one or more of the siblings, for reasonable sibling visiting rights. If a petitioner asks a court to issue a decree regarding visits or to amend an order, the court shall act as follows:

  • May hold a hearing to determine whether such visits are in the best interests of the children
  • Shall weigh the relative interests of each child and base its decision on the best interests of the children promoting the greatest welfare and least harm to the children
  • May issue an appropriate order or decree

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, to place siblings together, the local department may place more than two children who require treatment in an eligible treatment foster care home if the following apply:

  • The local department makes a written finding explaining why placement of the siblings together:
    • Is in the best interests of the siblings
    • Will not harm other children placed at the same treatment foster care home
  • The local department notifies the Social Services Administration of the placement.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-3B-12

The child may be placed for adoption with a relative of the child, by blood or marriage, within four degrees of affinity or consanguinity under the civil law rule.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Fam. Law §§ 5-3B-12; 5-3B-24

The provisions of § 5-3B-12, which requires the parent to petition the court for approval before placing the child for adoption, and § 5-3B-24, which requires the adoption petitioner to file with the court an accounting of all payments, are not applicable when the child is placed for adoption with a relative of the child.