Placement of Children With Relatives - North Carolina

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Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 7B-505; 7B-101

A child alleged to be abused, neglected, or dependent may be placed in nonsecure custody with the Department of Social Services in any of the following:

  • A licensed foster home
  • A facility operated by the department
  • Any other home or facility approved by the court, including the home of a parent, relative, nonrelative kin, or other person with legal custody of a sibling of the child

The court shall order the department to make diligent efforts to notify relatives and other persons with legal custody of a sibling of the child that the child is in nonsecure custody and of any scheduled hearings unless the court finds the notification would be contrary to the best interests of the child.

If the court does not place the child with a relative, the court may consider whether nonrelative kin or other persons with legal custody of a sibling of the child are willing and able to provide proper care and supervision of the child in a safe home. The court may order the department to notify the child's State-recognized Tribe of the need for nonsecure custody for the purpose of locating relatives or nonrelative kin for placement. If the child is not placed with a relative, the court may consider whether an appropriate former foster parent, nonrelative kin, or other persons with legal custody of the child's sibling are willing and able to provide proper care of the child in a safe home.

The term 'nonrelative kin' means a person who has a substantial relationship with the child. In the case of a juvenile member of a State-recognized Tribe, nonrelative kin also include any member of the Tribe or a member of a federally recognized Tribe, regardless of whether there is a substantial relationship with the child.

A 'relative' is a person directly related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption, including, but not limited to, a grandparent, sibling, or a parent's sibling.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 7B-505; 7B-903

In placing a child in nonsecure custody, the court shall first consider whether a relative of the child is willing and able to provide proper care and supervision of the child in a safe home. If the court finds that the relative is willing and able to provide proper care and supervision in a safe home, then the court shall order placement of the child with the relative, unless the court finds that placement with the relative would be contrary to the best interests of the child.

The court may order placement of the child with nonrelative kin if the court finds the placement is in the child's best interests.

If the court determines that the child should be placed in the custody of an individual other than a parent, the court shall verify that the person receiving custody of the child understands the legal significance of the placement and will have adequate resources to care appropriately for the child. The fact that the prospective custodian has provided a stable placement for the child for at least 6 consecutive months is evidence that the person has adequate resources.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-505; Admin. Code Tit. 10A, § 70E.1001

If siblings are removed from the home and placed in the nonsecure custody of a county department, the director shall make reasonable efforts to place the siblings in the same home. The director is not required to make reasonable efforts under this subsection if the director documents that placing the siblings would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings. If, after making reasonable efforts, the director is unable to place the siblings in the same home, the director shall make reasonable efforts to provide frequent sibling visits and ongoing interaction between the siblings unless the director documents that frequent visits or other ongoing interaction between the siblings would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings.

In regulation: Exceptions to the number of children that may be placed in foster family home or therapeutic foster home at any time may be made if written documentation is submitted to the licensing authority that siblings will be placed together, and the foster home complies with fire and building safety regulations. The out-of-home family services agreement for each sibling shall specify that siblings will be placed together and shall also address the foster parents' skill, stamina, and ability to care for the children.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-301(b)

A relative, including a grandparent, full- or half-sibling, first cousin, a parent's or grandparent's sibling, or great-grandparent, may adopt the child.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-301(b); 48-3-309

A preplacement assessment is not required in an independent adoption when a prospective adoptive parent is a grandparent, full- or half-sibling, first cousin, a parent's or grandparent's sibling, or great-grandparent of the child.

The Department of Health and Human Services shall ensure that the criminal histories of all prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a minor who is in the custody or placement responsibility of a county Department of Social Services, and the criminal histories of all individuals aged 18 or older who reside in the prospective adoptive home, are checked prior to placement.