Placement of Children With Relatives - Pennsylvania

Date: September 2022

Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 67, §§ 3102; 3105

A relative is a person who is related within the fifth degree of consanguinity or affinity to the parent or stepparent of a child and who is at least age 21. The term 'kin' refers to a person aged 21 or older who is one of the following:

  • A godparent of the child as recognized by an organized church
  • A member of the child's Tribe, nation, or Tribal organization
  • A person with a significant, positive relationship with the child or family

Except in situations of family or domestic violence, the county agency shall exercise due diligence to identify and notify all grandparents and other adult relatives of the child and each parent who has legal custody of a sibling of the child within 30 days of the child's removal from the child's home when temporary legal and physical custody has been transferred to the county agency. The notice must explain all the following:

  • Any options under Federal and State law available to the relative to participate in the care and placement of the child, including any options that would be lost by failing to respond to the notice
  • The requirements to become a foster parent, permanent legal custodian, or adoptive parent
  • The additional supports that are available for children removed from their home

If a child has been removed from the child's home under a voluntary placement agreement or is in the legal custody of the county agency, the county agency shall give first consideration to placement with relatives or kin. The county agency shall document that an attempt was made to place the child with a relative or kin. If the child is not placed with a relative or kin, the agency shall document the reason why such placement was not possible.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 67, §§ 3102; 3103; 3105

An 'eligible permanent legal custodian' is a relative or kin who meets all the following:

  • Whose home is approved pursuant to applicable regulations for placement of foster children
  • With whom an eligible child has resided for at least 6 months, which need not be consecutive
  • Who meets the requirements to be approved as a foster parent under title 23, § 6344

'Family finding' is defined as ongoing diligent efforts between a county agency, or its contracted providers, and relatives and kin to do the following:

  • Search for and identify adult relatives and kin and engage them in social service planning and delivery
  • Gain commitment from relatives and kin to support a child or parent receiving social services

Family finding shall be conducted for a child when the child is accepted for service and at least annually thereafter until the child's involvement with the county agency is terminated or the family finding is discontinued in accordance with § 3104.

The Department of Human Services is authorized to promulgate regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter. The regulations shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Relatives and kin shall receive the same foster care rate as other foster parents if they comply with the regulations governing foster parents.
  • Foster care payments received by a relative or kin who is a foster parent shall be excluded from consideration when calculating eligibility for public assistance.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 67, § 3102; Tit. 42, § 6351(b)

A 'sibling' is a person who has at least one parent in common with another person, whether by blood, marriage, or adoption, regardless of whether there is a termination of parental rights or parental death. The term includes biological, adoptive, stepsiblings, and half-siblings.

Prior to entering any order of disposition that would remove a dependent child from their home, the court shall determine, if the child has a sibling who is subject to removal from their home, whether reasonable efforts were made prior to the placement of the child to place the siblings together or whether such joint placement is contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or sibling.

If a sibling of a child has been removed from their home and is in a different placement setting than the child, the court shall enter an order that ensures visits between the child and the child's sibling no less than twice a month, unless a finding is made that the visits are contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or sibling.

Relatives Who May Adopt

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 2531

A report of intention to adopt shall not be required from the person receiving or retaining custody or physical care of the child when the child is the person's child; grandchild; stepchild; sibling of the whole-blood or half-blood; or the child of the person's sibling by blood, marriage, or adoption.