Placement of Children With Relatives - Wisconsin

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Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.355; 48.57

When appropriate, and, in cases of child abuse or neglect, when it is consistent with the best interests of the child in terms of physical safety and physical health, the family unit shall be preserved and there shall be a policy of transferring custody of a child from the parent only when there is no less drastic alternative. If there is no less drastic alternative for a child than transferring custody from the parent, the judge shall consider transferring custody to a relative whenever possible.

The terms 'kinship care relative' and 'long-term kinship care relative' mean a relative other than a parent.

The Department of Children and Families shall make payments in the amount of $300 per month beginning on January 1, 2022, to a kinship care relative or a long-term kinship care relative who is providing care and maintenance for a child.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.57

To receive a kinship care payment, all the following conditions must be met:

  • The relative applies to the department for payments and a license to operate a foster home.
  • The department determines that there is a need for the child to be placed with the relative and that the placement is in the best interests of the child.
  • The department conducts a background investigation of the relative, any employee and prospective employee of the relative who has regular contact with the child, and any other adult resident of the home to determine if the relative, employee, prospective employee, or adult resident has any arrests or convictions that could adversely affect the child or the relative's ability to care for the child.
  • The relative cooperates with the department in the application process, including applying for other forms of assistance for which the child may be eligible.

The long-term kinship care relative must apply for payments, provide proof that they have been appointed as the child's guardian, and apply for a license to operate a foster home. The department will do the following:

  • Inspect the relative's home
  • Interview the relative to determine that long-term placement with the relative is in the best interests of the child
  • Conduct a background investigation of the relative, any employees, or adult resident who would have regular contact with the child

The long-term kinship care relative agrees to provide care and maintenance for the child until the earliest of the following dates:

  • The child reaches age 18 or reaches age 19 or 21 if the child is a full-time student in good academic standing at a secondary school or vocational program.
  • The child dies.
  • The child is placed outside the relative's home.
  • The child ceases to reside with the relative.
  • The relative's guardianship terminates.
  • The child moves out of the State.

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.33(4)(d)

If the child has one or more siblings who have been removed from the home or for whom an out-of-home placement is recommended, the department must provide the court with specific information showing that the department has made reasonable efforts to place the child in a placement that enables the sibling group to remain together, unless the department recommends that the child and their siblings not be placed in a joint placement. In such a case, the report shall include specific information showing that a joint placement would be contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or any of those siblings.

If a recommendation is made that the child and their siblings not be placed in a joint placement, the report must include specific information showing that the department has made reasonable efforts to provide for frequent visits or other ongoing interaction between the child and the siblings, unless the department recommends that such visits or interaction not be provided. In such a case, the report shall include specific information showing that such visits or interaction would be contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or any of those siblings.

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.02

The term 'relative' means a parent, stepparent, sibling, stepsibling, half-sibling, first cousin, second cousin, a parent's sibling or stepsibling, or any person of a preceding generation as denoted by the prefix of 'grand,' 'great,' or 'great-great,' whether by blood, marriage, or legal adoption, or the spouse of any person named in this subsection, even if the marriage is terminated by death or divorce. For purposes of the application of § 48.028 and the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C §§ 1901 to 1963, 'relative' includes an extended family member, whether by blood, marriage, or adoption, including adoption under Tribal law or custom. For purposes of placement of a child, 'relative' also includes a parent of a sibling of the child who has legal custody of that sibling.

The term 'extended family member' means a person who is defined as a member of an Indian child's extended family by the law or custom of the Indian child's Tribe or, in the absence of such a law or custom, a person who is age 18 or older and who is the Indian child's grandparent, sibling or sibling's spouse, first cousin, second cousin, a parent's sibling or that sibling's child or spouse, or the child's stepparent.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.834; 48.835

Before placing a child for adoption, the department or child welfare agency making the placement shall consider the availability of a placement for adoption with a relative of the child who is identified in the child's permanency plan or who is otherwise known by the department or agency.

If a child who is being placed for adoption has one or more siblings who have been adopted or who have been placed for adoption, the department or agency making the placement shall make reasonable efforts to place the child for adoption with an adoptive parent of that sibling who is identified in the child's permanency plan under § 48.38 or 938.38 or who is otherwise known by the department or agency, unless the department or agency determines that a joint placement would be contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or any of those siblings. In such case, the department or agency shall make reasonable efforts to provide for frequent visits or other ongoing interaction between the child and the siblings, unless the department or agency determines that such visits or interaction would be contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or any of those siblings.

A parent may place a child in the home of a relative for adoption without a court order.

If the child's parent has not filed a petition for the termination of parental rights, the relative with whom the child is placed shall file a petition for the termination of the parent's rights at the same time the petition for adoption is filed. The court may hold the hearing on the adoption petition immediately after entering the order to terminate parental rights.