Placement of Children With Relatives - Virginia

Date: September 2022

Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16.1-281; 63.2-900.1

If the Department of Social Services concludes that it is not reasonably likely that the child can be returned to their prior family within a practicable time, consistent with the best interests of the child, it shall design a placement plan to lead to the child's successful placement with a relative if a subsequent transfer of custody to the relative is planned.

The local board shall determine whether the child has any relative who may be eligible to become a kinship foster parent. Searches for relatives eligible to serve as kinship foster parents shall be conducted at the time the child enters foster care, at least annually thereafter, and prior to any subsequent changes to the child's placement setting. The local board shall take all reasonable steps to provide notice to such relatives of their potential eligibility to become kinship foster parents and explain any opportunities such relatives may have to participate in the placement and care of the child, including opportunities available through kinship foster care or kinship guardianship.

For purposes of this section, 'relative' means an adult who is related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption or fictive kin of the child.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16.1-281; 63.2-900.1

Any order transferring custody of the child to a relative other than the child's prior family shall be entered only upon a finding, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the relative is one who, after an investigation as directed by the court, meets the following criteria:

  • Is found by the court to be willing and qualified to receive and care for the child
  • Is willing to have a positive, continuous relationship with the child
  • Is committed to providing a permanent, suitable home for the child
  • Is willing and able to protect the child from abuse and neglect

The court's order transferring custody to a relative should further provide for, as appropriate, any terms or conditions that would promote the child's interests and welfare, ongoing provision of social services to the child and the child's custodian, and court review of the child's placement.

Kinship foster care placements shall be subject to all requirements of, and shall be eligible for all services related to, foster care placement contained in this chapter. Subject to approval by the commissioner, a local board may grant a waiver of the State board's standards for foster home approval set forth in regulations that are not related to safety. Training requirements may be waived for purposes of initial approval; however, such training requirements shall be completed within 6 months of the initial approval. Waivers granted pursuant to this subsection shall be considered and, if appropriate, granted on a case-by-case basis and shall include consideration of the unique needs of each child to be placed.

The kinship foster parent shall be eligible to receive payment at the full foster care rate for the care of the child.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-900.2

All reasonable steps shall be taken to place siblings entrusted by a parent to the care of a local board or licensed child-placing agency; committed to the care of a local board or agency by any court of competent jurisdiction; or placed with a local board or public agency through an agreement between a local board or a public agency and the parent, parents, or guardians when legal custody remains with the parent, parents, or guardian, together in the same foster home.

When siblings are placed in separate foster homes, the local department, child-placing agency, or public agency shall develop a plan to encourage frequent and regular visits or communication between the siblings. The visiting or communication plan shall consider the wishes of the child and shall specify the frequency of visits or communication; identify the party responsible for encouraging that visits or communication occur; and state any other requirements or restrictions related to such visits or communication as may be determined necessary by the local department, child-placing agency, or public agency.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1242.1

A 'close relative placement' shall be an adoption by the child's grandparent, great-grandparent, adult sibling or stepsibling, stepparent, the parent's or grandparent's sibling or the sibling's adult children, or other adult relatives of the child by marriage or adoption.

In a close relative placement, the court may accept the written and signed consent of the birth parent(s) that is signed under oath and acknowledged by an officer authorized by law to take such acknowledgments.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63.2-1242.2; 63.2-1242.3

When the child has continuously resided in the home or has been in the continuous physical custody of the prospective adoptive parent who is a close relative for less than 2 years, the adoption proceeding, including court approval of the home study, shall commence in the juvenile and domestic relations district court pursuant to the parental placement adoption provisions of this chapter, with the following exceptions:

  • The birth parent's consent does not have to be executed in juvenile and domestic relations district court in the presence of the prospective adoptive parents.
  • The simultaneous meeting specified in § 63.2-1231 is not required.
  • No hearing is required for this proceeding.

When the child has continuously resided in the home or has been in the continuous physical custody of the prospective adoptive parent who is a close relative for 2 or more years, the parental placement provisions of this chapter shall not apply, and the adoption proceeding shall commence in the circuit court.

For close relative adoptive placement, the following apply:

  • An order of reference, an investigation, and a report shall not be made if the home study report is filed with the court unless the court, in its discretion, requires an investigation and report to be made.
  • The court may omit the probationary period and the interlocutory order and enter a final order of adoption when the court is of the opinion that the entry of an order would otherwise be proper.
  • If the court determines that there is a need for an additional investigation, it shall refer the matter to the licensed child-placing agency that drafted the home study report for an investigation and report. The report shall be completed within such times as the court designates.
  • The court may waive appointment of a guardian ad litem for the child.