Placement of Children With Relatives - Massachusetts

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Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Ch. 119, § 23; Code of Rules Tit. 110, § 7.101

Whenever the Department of Children and Families places a child in foster care, the department shall immediately commence a search to locate any relative of the child, including the parents of siblings who have custody of the siblings or other adult person who has played a significant positive role in that child's life, in order to determine whether the child may appropriately be placed with that relative or person if, in the judgment of the department, that placement would be in the best interests of the child.

In regulation: The department shall consider the following placements in the following order:

  • With a kinship family
  • With a child-specific family
  • In a family foster care home where the child was previously placed
  • In family foster care
  • In a shelter, short-term program, or group home
  • In community residential care

Whenever the department places a child in foster care, the department shall seek from the child's parents the names of relatives or other kin who may be available to become a foster placement for the child. The department also shall begin a search for other relatives of the child or for other adult persons who have played a significant positive role in the child's life to determine whether the child may appropriately be placed with a relative or person if, in the judgment of the department, that placement would be in the best interests of the child.

Within 30 days of the child's removal from their home, the department notify kin and other suitable adults, unless the kin or other adult could not be approved as a foster parent due to known domestic violence, of the following:

  • That the child has been removed from the custody of the parents
  • The process for applying to become the child's foster parent and the standards for becoming a foster parent
  • The availability of foster care payments and medical insurance for the child

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 15D, § 6; Code of Rules Tit. 110, § 7.101

Prior approval of the home by the Department of Early Education and Care is not required for emergency foster placement of the child with a relative or long-term friend of the child's family. Within 10 days of placement, a criminal offender record check must be performed on all persons aged 18 or older who reside in the home.

In regulation: When considering a kinship or child-specific placement, the department shall require that the relative, extended family member, or individual chosen by parent(s) meet the department's requirements, as set forth in title 110, §§ 7.104 and 7.105.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 119, §§ 23; 26B; Code of Rules Tit. 110, § 7.101

The department shall seek to identify any minor sibling or half-sibling of the child and attempt to place these children in the same foster family if, in the judgment of the department, that placement would be in the best interests of the children.

The court or the department shall, whenever reasonable and practical and based upon a determination of the best interests of the child, ensure that children placed in foster care shall have access to and visits with siblings in other foster or preadoptive homes or in the homes of parents or extended family members throughout the period of placement, or after such placements, if the children or their siblings are separated through adoption or long-term or short-term placements in foster care.

Any child over age 12 may request to visit with siblings who have been separated and placed in care or have been adopted in a foster or adoptive home other than where the child resides.

In regulation: The department shall place a child with the child's full- or half-sibling, unless doing so would be contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or sibling or otherwise not in the child's best interests. If siblings are not placed together, reasonable efforts will be made to provide for visits with siblings, unless such visits would be harmful to the child or sibling.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 15D, § 6; Ch. 210, § 2A

A child may not be placed with a person who is not related to that child by blood or marriage for purposes of adoption, unless the placement is made by a licensed or approved placement agency.

No decree of adoption shall be entered for the adoption of a child younger than age 14 until one of the following conditions has been met:

  • The child sought to be adopted has been placed with the petitioners for adoption by the department or by an authorized child-placing agency.
  • The petitioner is a blood relative of the child.
  • The petitioner is a stepparent of the child.
  • The petitioner was nominated in the will of a deceased natural parent of the child as a guardian or an adoptive parent.
  • The petition for adoption has been approved in writing by the department or by an authorized child-placing agency.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 3B; Code of Regs. Tit. 110, § 18.10

A review of the criminal offender record information shall be made to assist in evaluating the suitability of the adoptive parent.

In regulation: In the case of an individual seeking to serve as a preadoptive kinship placement for a child in the care or custody of the department, the department shall not be precluded from placing the child in a preadoptive kinship home if the commissioner, deputy commissioner for field operations, and general counsel have conducted a review of the criminal records database pursuant to 110 CMR 18.11(9) and determined the placement is in the best interests of the child.