Placement of Children With Relatives - Rhode Island

Date: September 2022

Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Gen. Laws § 40-11-12.2; Code of Rules § 214-30-00-1

Prior to the placement of a child in foster care, reasonable efforts shall be made to prevent or eliminate the need for removing the child from the child's home. Efforts shall include placement of the child with a blood relative or other family member if such placement is in the best interests of the child.

In regulation: The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) gives first consideration to a relative, kinship, or fictive kinship placement for the child prior to seeking a nonrelative placement.

Within 30 days after the removal of a child from the custody of the parent(s), DCYF will exercise due diligence to identify and provide notice to all grandparents and other adult relatives of the child (including any adult relatives suggested by the parents), subject to exceptions due to family and/or child safety. The notice must include the following information:

  • That the child has been removed from the custody of the parents
  • The options the relative has to participate in the care and placement of the child, including any options that may be lost by failing to respond to the notice
  • The requirements to become a foster family home and the additional services and supports that are available
  • The option to receive kinship guardianship assistance payments

The term 'relative' includes stepparent; grandparent; great-grandparent; a parent's or grandparent's sibling; and the child's sibling, stepsibling, half-sibling, or first cousin.

For an Indian child, preference for placement must be with a member of the Indian child's extended family. When no preferred placement is available, active efforts are made to place the Indian child with a family committed to enabling the child to have an extended family visits and participate in the cultural, spiritual, religious, and ceremonial activities of the Indian child's Tribe.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Gen. Laws § 14-1-27; Code of Rules § 214-30-00-1

When DCYF makes application to the court to take a child into temporary custody due to allegations of abuse and/or neglect or dependency, DCYF shall have the duty to investigate the possibility of placing the child or children with a fit and willing relative not residing with the parents. DCYF shall conduct an assessment into the appropriateness of placement of the child or children with the relative within 30 days of the child's placement in the temporary custody of DCYF. If DCYF determines that the relative is a fit and proper person to have placement of the child, the child shall be placed with that relative unless the particular needs of the child make the placement contrary to the child's best interests. All placements with relatives shall be subject to criminal records checks in accordance with § 14-1-34, foster care regulations promulgated by DCYF, and interstate compact approval, if necessary.

In regulation: If a child is already residing in an unlicensed kinship foster home, or if it appears that the best interests of the child will be served by placing the child in the home prior to licensing, DCYF may authorize the placement in the home pending licensure for no longer than 6 months, provided that DCYF has conducted a child abuse and neglect registry check and a statewide and nationwide criminal records check that includes fingerprinting all eligible household members.


If DCYF is unable to complete the licensing process within 6 months of the child's placement in the kinship foster home, and if DCYF determines that continued placement of the child in the home is in the child's best interest, DCYF will file a petition with the family court to seek authorization to allow the child to remain in the kinship foster home pending completion of the licensing process. DCYF must provide notice of all such petitions to the Office of the Child Advocate, the child's parent or guardian, and the court-appointed special advocate.


Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Code of Rules § 214-30-00-1

DCYF must place siblings who have been living with each other prior to placement or who enter placement at or within 30 days of each other together, unless any of the following apply:


  • DCYF determines that doing so would be harmful and/or not be in the best interests of one or more of the siblings.
  • One of the siblings has treatment needs that can only be met in a specialized placement or facility.
  • The size of the sibling group makes such placement impossible due to the licensing regulations restricting such placement to a single home based on the size of the sibling group and not as a result of a lack of licensed capacity for a group of that size.
  • It is in the best interests of one or more of the siblings to be placed in a kinship placement in which the other sibling(s) cannot be placed.
  • Specific placements are made by an order of the family court.

DCYF must place siblings removed from their home in the same foster care, adoption, or guardianship placement unless there is an acceptable exception. If siblings cannot be placed together, DCYF must facilitate visiting or ongoing contact, unless it is contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Gen. Laws §§ 14-1-27; 15-7-2; Code of Rules § 214-30-00-1

Whenever the court determines that permanent placement or adoption is in the best interests of a child, a fit and willing relative who has been awarded placement of the child shall be given priority over a nonrelative, provided that the placement or adoption is in the best interests of the child.

Whenever a parent places their child for adoption with a person other than a parent, sibling, a parent's sibling, grandparent, or stepparent, the person with whom the child has been placed shall, within 15 days of the placement, notify DCYF of the placement.

In regulation: The search for and selection of an adoptive home for an Indian child occurs in conjunction with the Tribe's representative in the following order of preference:

  • A member of the Indian child's extended family
  • Other members of the Indian child's Tribe
  • Other Indian family
  • Non-Indian family

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Gen. Laws §§ 15-7-2.1; 15-7-11

The requirement for a preplacement report on the child does not apply to a stepparent adoption or the adoption of a child related to the petitioner by marriage, blood, or adoption.

Upon the filing of a petition for adoption, the court shall notify DCYF. It shall then be the duty of the department to conduct the appropriate investigation to determine whether the proposed adoptive home is a suitable home for the child. If the child was placed for adoption by a licensed child-placing agency, the court may accept the home study report of the agency as long as the study includes any criminal record of the prospective adoptive parent and any household member aged 18 and older.

The home study report shall include a nationwide criminal records check. This requirement may, in the discretion of the court, be waived in the case of a petition for the adoption of a child where the child is the natural child of one of the parties petitioning for the adoption and resides with the petitioning parties.