Placement of Children With Relatives - New Jersey

Date: September 2022

Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 30:4C-12.1; 3B:12A-2; 30:4C-15.8

In any case in which the Department of Children and Families accepts a child in its care or custody, including placement, the department shall consider placement of the child with a suitable relative or person who has a kinship relationship. The department shall initiate a search for relatives or persons with a kinship relationship with the child who may be willing and able to provide the care and support required by the child in its custody.

The term 'kinship relationship' means a family friend or a person with a biological or legal relationship with the child. A 'family friend' is a person who is connected to a child or the child's parent by an established positive psychological or emotional relationship that is not a biological or legal relationship.

The department shall not be required to search for relatives as a placement or permanency option for an abandoned newborn or other requirements that give preference to relatives if the identity of the child and parents are unknown.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-12.1; Admin. Code §§ 3A:51-1.3; 3A:51-2.2

The department shall complete an assessment of each interested relative's or person's ability to provide the care and support, including placement, required by the child.

In regulation: The term 'kinship care' means care provided by a resource family parent or applicant who is either of the following:

  • Related to a child in placement through blood, marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, or adoption and is not the child's parent
  • Connected to a child in placement or to the child's parent by an established positive psychological or emotional relationship

The Office of Licensing may grant a waiver of a licensing requirement for a resource family parent or applicant providing kinship care. Requests for waivers shall be made to the office in writing with supporting information justifying the request. Waivers shall be considered only for nonsafety standards for a specific child or children in placement on a case-by-case basis.

A waiver may be granted at the discretion of the office upon consideration of the following criteria:

  • The type or degree of hardship that would result to the resource family parent or applicant if the waiver were not granted
  • The negative impact on a specific child or children in placement if the waiver were not granted
  • Whether the waiver, if granted, would adversely affect the health, safety, well-being, or rights of any child residing in the resource family home

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Admin. Code § 3A:15-1.4

A written visitation plan shall be developed to identify the type and frequency of visits to be instituted for every child in out-of-home placement unless otherwise directed by the court. The visitation plan is included in the case plan. The visitation plan may exclude specific persons from having visits, giving full consideration to the child's safety.

The visitation plan shall include visits with siblings, if any. Sibling visits may take place with parental visits or separately.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:3-39.1

A child may be placed for adoption with a sibling, a parent's sibling, grandparent, birth parent, or stepparent.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 9:3-48; 9:3-54.2

Whenever a petitioner is a sibling, grandparent, a parent's sibling, or birth parent of the child, the order may limit the investigation to an inquiry concerning the status of the parents of the child and an evaluation of the petitioner.

Upon the request of a surrogate and not more than 30 days prior to the preliminary hearing, a search of the records of the central registry of domestic violence restraining orders, established pursuant to § 2C:25-34, may be conducted to determine whether either of the following applies to a prospective adoptive parent or any member of the parent's household:

  • Has had a domestic violence restraining order entered against them
  • Has been charged with a violation of a court order involving domestic violence

A home study that includes checks of State and Federal criminal history records and a check of child abuse and neglect records is required for each prospective adoptive parent and each adult residing in the home.