Placement of Children With Relatives - New York

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Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Fam. Ct. Act §§ 1017; 1055-b; 1012

When the court determines that a child must be removed from their home, the court shall direct the local commissioner of social services to conduct an immediate investigation to locate any nonrespondent parent of the child and any relatives of the child, including all the child's grandparents, all relatives or suitable persons identified by any respondent parent or any nonrespondent parent, and any relative identified by a child over age 5 as a relative who plays or has played a significant and positive role in their life. The local commissioner shall inform them in writing of the pendency of the proceeding and of the opportunity for nonrespondent parents to seek temporary release of the child or for relatives or suitable persons to become foster parents, provide free care, or seek guardianship of the child.

At the conclusion of the dispositional hearing, the court may grant custody or guardianship of the child to a respondent parent, relative, or other suitable person if the following conditions have been met:

  • The respondent parent, relative, or suitable person has filed a petition for custody or guardianship of the child.
  • The court finds that granting custody or guardianship of the child to such person is in the best interests of the child and that the safety of the child will not be jeopardized if that person is no longer under supervision or receiving protective services.
  • The court finds that granting custody or guardianship of the child to such person will provide the child with a safe and permanent home.

A 'relative' is any person who is related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption and who is not a parent, putative parent, or relative of a putative parent of the child. A 'suitable person' is any person who plays or has played a significant positive role in the child's life or in the life of the child's family.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Fam. Ct. Act § 1028-a

Upon application of a relative to become a foster parent of a child, the court shall hold a hearing to determine whether the child should be placed with the relative. The hearing shall be held only if the following apply:

  • The person is related as described under § 458-a(3)(a), (b), or (c) of the Social Services Law.
  • The child has been temporarily removed from their home and placed in nonrelative foster care.
  • The relative indicates a willingness to become the foster parent of the child and has not refused previously to be considered as a foster parent or custodian of the child; however, an inability to provide immediate care for the child due to a lack of resources or inadequate housing, educational, or other arrangements necessary to care appropriately for the child shall not constitute a previous refusal.
  • The local social services district has refused to place the child with the relative for reasons other than the relative's failure to qualify as a foster parent pursuant to regulation.
  • The application is brought within 6 months from the date the relative received notice that the child was being removed or had been removed from their home and no later than 12 months from the date that the child was removed.

The court shall give due consideration to such application and make the determination as to whether the child should be placed in foster care with the relative based on the best interests of the child.

After the hearing, if the court determines that placement in foster care with the relative is in the best interests of the child, the court shall direct the local commissioner of social services to commence an investigation of the home of the relative within 24 hours and thereafter expedite approval or certification of the relative, if qualified, as a foster parent. No child, however, shall be placed with a relative prior to final approval or certification of the relative as a foster parent.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Fam. Ct. Act § 1027-a; Soc. Ser. § 383-c(11)

When a social services official removes a child from their home, such official shall place the child with their minor siblings or half-siblings who have been or are being placed in the care and custody of the official unless, in the judgment of the official, such placement is contrary to the best interests of the children. Placement with siblings or half-siblings shall be presumptively in the child's best interests unless such placement would be contrary to the child's health, safety, or welfare. If such placement is not immediately available at the time of the removal of the child, such official shall provide or arrange for the provision of such placement within 30 days.

If placement of a child removed from home together with their minor siblings is not in the best interests of the child, the social services official shall arrange appropriate and regular contact by the child with their minor siblings and half-siblings unless such contact would not be in the child's and the siblings' best interests.

Acceptance of a judicial surrender or approval of an extra-judicial surrender of parental rights shall not be construed to terminate any rights of the child to contact their siblings. For purposes of this section, the term 'siblings' shall include half-siblings and those who would be deemed siblings or half-siblings but for the surrender, termination of parental rights, or death of a parent.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law §§ 383; 383-c

Upon acceptance of a judicial surrender or approval of an extrajudicial surrender, the court shall inquire whether any foster parent or parents with whom the child resides, any relative of the child, or other person seeks to adopt the child.

Any adult husband and his adult wife and any adult unmarried person who, as foster parent or parents, have cared for a child continuously for a period of 12 months or more 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 shall give preference and first consideration to their application over all other applications for adoption placements.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law §§ 383; 383-c

Final determination of the propriety of an adoption of a foster child by a foster parent or relative shall be within the sole discretion of the court.

If a foster parent, relative, or other person seeks to adopt the child, such person may submit, and the court shall accept, all petitions for the adoption of the child, together with an adoption home study, if any, completed by an authorized agency or disinterested person. The court shall thereafter establish a schedule for completion of other inquiries and investigations necessary to complete review of the adoption of the child and shall immediately set a schedule for completion of the adoption.