Michigan Relative Foster Placement
Relative Foster Placement

Can my children be placed with a relative?

Michigan law requires the courts and CPS / DHS to give serious consideration to relative placement. Relative placement is almost always preferred to traditional foster care. Occasionally, we have cases where the relatives are actively working against the parents and that creates additional difficulties for parents trying to achieve reunification with their children. However, in most instances, if children are not placed in the parental home, relative placement should be pursued rapidly.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) must investigate relative placement. The basic requirements are that they conduct a home study, a criminal history check and a Central Registry clearance for the adult relative being proposed. The DHS workers may take their time investigating relatives being considered for placement. The parent’s attorney should offer the information and make a formal request of both the court and the agency at the soonest possible moment.

The statutory definition of “relative” is fairly broad. It includes adults who are “related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption, as grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparent, aunt or uncle, great-aunt or great-uncle, great-great-aunt or great-great-uncle, sibling, stepsibling, nephew or niece, first cousin or first cousin once removed, and the spouse of any of the above, even after the marriage has ended by death or divorce.” MCLA 712A13(a)(1)(j). Under certain circumstances, a child can be placed with the parent of a putative father as well. Where no immediate relative is available, parents should discuss kinship and “fictive kinship” placement with their attorneys.

For many parents, the reality is that foster care is detrimental to their reunification efforts. Well meaning foster parents are often seeking children to adopt and will drop from the system once they have achieved their adoption goals. Foster parents are often provided very jaded information about the condition of the home and the alleged actions of the parents. They have little contact with the parents and no reason to challenge the information that has been provided. Inadvertently, some foster parents reinforce the views of CPS investigators in their conversations with the child. Many stories of abuse or neglect become exaggerated while a child is in foster care. The ideal situation for children under the jurisdiction of the family court is that they are placed with parents or others who will not involve them in discussions about the allegations in the case.

Keep in mind that the court is never required to place a child with a family member. This request should be presented with evidence that this is in the best interest of the child. The Guardian ad litem, prosecutor, and petitioner(s) will often oppose relative placement. As with most areas of child protection litigation, the parent’s attorney is often opposed by all of the other lawyers in the courtroom.

The Kronzek Firm PLC attorneys have successfully helped families throughout Michigan by getting children placed with relatives. Call us at 866 766 5245 and we can confidentially discuss your case.