Placement of Children With Relatives - Missouri

Date: September 2022

Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 210.565

Whenever a child is placed in a foster home and the court has determined that foster home placement with relatives is not contrary to the best interests of the child, the Children's Division shall give foster home placement to relatives of the child. The division shall make diligent efforts to locate the grandparents of the child and determine whether they wish to be considered for placement of the child. Grandparents who request consideration shall be given preference and first consideration for foster home placement of the child. If more than one grandparent requests consideration, the family support team shall make recommendations to the juvenile or family court about which grandparent should be considered for placement.

The term 'relative' means a grandparent or any other person related to another by blood or affinity or a person who is not related to the child but has a close relationship with the child or the child's family. The status of a grandparent shall not be affected by the death or the dissolution of the marriage of a son or daughter.

The following shall be the order of preference for placement of a child under this section:

  • Grandparents
  • Relatives related by blood or affinity within the third degree
  • Other relatives
  • Any foster parent who is currently licensed and capable of accepting placement of the child

For any Native American child placed in protective custody, the children's division shall comply with the placement requirements set forth in 25 U.S.C. § 1915.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 210.565

The preference for placement and first consideration for grandparents or preference for placement with other relatives only shall apply when the court finds the placement is not contrary to the best interests of the child, considering all circumstances. If the court finds that it is contrary to the best interests of a child to be placed with grandparents or other relatives, the court shall make specific findings detailing the reasons why the best interests of the child necessitate placement of the child with persons other than grandparents or other relatives.

The age of the child's grandparent or other relative shall not be the only factor that the division takes into consideration when it makes placement decisions and recommendations to the court about placing the child with such grandparent or other relative.

A grandparent or other relative may, on a case-by-case basis, have standards for licensure not related to safety waived for specific children in care that would otherwise impede licensing of the grandparent's or relative's home. In addition, any person receiving a preference may be licensed in an expedited manner if a child is placed under such person's care.

The guardian ad litem shall ascertain the child's wishes and feelings about their placement by conducting an interview with the child, if appropriate based on the child's age and maturity level, which shall be considered as a factor in placement decisions and recommendations but shall not supersede the preference for relative placement or be contrary to the child's best interests.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 210.565

The term 'sibling' refers to one of two or more individuals who have one or both parents in common through blood, marriage, or adoption, including siblings as defined by the child's Tribal code or custom.

Recognizing the critical nature of sibling bonds for children, the division shall make reasonable efforts to place siblings in the same foster care, kinship, guardianship, or adoptive placement, unless doing so would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings. If siblings are not placed together, the division shall make reasonable efforts to provide frequent visits or other ongoing interaction between the siblings, unless this interaction would be contrary to a siblings' safety or well-being.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 453.072; 453.070

The terms used in this section are defined as follows:

  • 'Relative' means any grandparent, parent's sibling, adult sibling of the child, adult first cousin of the child, or any other person related to the child by blood or affinity.
  • 'Close nonrelated person' means any nonrelated person whose life is so intermingled with the child that the relationship is similar to a family relationship.

Any adult person or persons over age 18, who, as foster parent or parents, have cared for a foster child continuously for a period of 9 months or more and bonding has occurred as evidenced by the positive emotional and physical interaction between the foster parent and child, may apply to an authorized agency for the placement of the child with them for the purpose of adoption if the child is eligible for adoption. The agency and court shall give preference and first consideration for adoptive placements to foster parents. However, the final determination of the propriety of the adoption of that foster child shall be within the sole discretion of the court.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 453.072; 453.070

Any subsidies available to adoptive parents shall also be available to the qualified relative of a child who is granted legal guardianship of the child in the same manner as such subsidies are available for adoptive parents.

In cases in which the adoption or custody involves a child under age 18 who is the natural child of one of the petitioners and all the parents required to give consent to the adoption or transfer of custody have given such consent, the juvenile court may waive the investigation and report, except the criminal background check, and enter the decree for the adoption or order the transfer of custody without the investigation and report.