Placement of Children With Relatives - Washington

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Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 13.34.130(1)(b); 13.34.060; 74.15.020(2)(a)

Subject approval by the court, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families may place the child with a relative or another suitable person if the child or family has a preexisting relationship with that person and the person has completed all required criminal history background checks and otherwise appears to be suitable and competent to care for the child.

 

Effective July 1, 2023: Unless there is reasonable cause to believe that the health, safety, or welfare of the child would be jeopardized or that the efforts to reunite the parent and child will be hindered, priority placement for a child shall be with a relative or other suitable person. If a child is not initially placed with a relative or other suitable person requested by the parent, the department shall make continuing efforts to place the child with a relative or other suitable person requested by the parent on the next business day after the child is taken into custody.

A relative includes a person related to the child in any of the following ways:

  • Any blood relative, including those of half-blood, and including cousins; a parent's sibling's children; and persons of preceding generations as denoted by prefixes of 'grand,' 'great,' or 'great-great'
  • Stepparent and stepsibling
  • A person who legally adopts a child or the child's parent as well as the natural and other legally adopted children of such persons and other relatives of the adoptive parents
  • Spouses of any persons named above, even after the marriage is terminated
  • The relatives of any half-sibling of the child
  • Extended family members, as defined by the law or custom of the Indian child's Tribe or, in the absence of such law or custom, a person aged 18 or older who is the Indian child's grandparent, the parent's sibling or their child, the child's sibling or the sibling's spouse or child, first or second cousin, or stepparent who cares for the child in the home on a 24-hour basis

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Rev. Code § 13.34.130; Admin. Code § 110-50-0170

Unless there is cause to believe that the child's health, safety, or welfare would be jeopardized or that efforts to reunite the parent and child will be hindered, the child shall be placed with a person who is willing, appropriate, and available to care for the child, and who is either of the following:

  • Related to the child and with whom the child has a relationship and is comfortable
  • A suitable person if the child or family has a preexisting relationship with that person

The court shall consider the child's existing relationships and attachments when determining placement. If the relative or other person appears otherwise suitable and competent to provide care, the criminal history background check need not be completed before placement but as soon as possible after placement. Any placements with relatives or other persons shall be contingent upon cooperation by the relative or other person with the agency case plan and compliance with court orders related to the care and supervision of the child, including, but not limited to, court orders regarding parent-child contacts, sibling contacts, and any other conditions imposed by the court.

In regulation: When the child needs to be placed outside the home, the department must search for appropriate relatives to care for the child before considering nonrelative placements. The department reviews and determines the following when selecting a relative placement:

  • The child would be comfortable living with the relative.
  • The relative has a potential relationship with the child.
  • The relative can care for the child and is willing to cooperate with the child's permanency plan.
  • The relative can provide a safe home for the child.
  • Each child has their own bed or crib if they remain in the home beyond 30 days.
  • The department may consider nonrelated family members as potential resources if these family members become licensed to provide foster care.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Rev. Code § 13.34.130

The department may consider placing the child, subject to review and approval by the court, with a person with whom the child's sibling or half-sibling is residing or a person who has adopted the sibling or half-sibling, as long as the person has completed all required criminal history background checks and otherwise appears to the department or supervising agency to be competent to provide care for the child.

If the court has ordered a child removed from their home, the court shall consider whether it is in their best interests to be placed with, have contact with, or have visits with siblings. There shall be a presumption that such placement, contact, or visits are in the best interests of the child, subject to the following:

  • The court has jurisdiction over all siblings subject to the order of placement, contact, or visits or the parents of a child for whom there is no jurisdiction are willing to agree.
  • There is no reasonable cause to believe that the health, safety, or welfare of any child subject to the order of placement, contact, or visits would be jeopardized or that efforts to reunite the parent and child would be hindered by such placement, contact, or visits. In no event shall parental visiting time be reduced to provide sibling visits.

The court also may order placement, contact, or visits of a child with a stepsibling provided that, in addition to the factors listed above, the child has a relationship and is comfortable with the stepsibling.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Admin. Code § 110-60-0070

The department prefers to place a child for adoption with a fit and willing relative who is known to the child and with whom the child is comfortable. The department shall do the following:

  • Conduct searches for relatives who are fit and willing to adopt the child, who are known to the child, and with whom the child is comfortable
  • Ask the relatives to be considered as a potential adoptive family

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

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