Who Decides Whether My Child Can Stay With Relatives?

Who Decides Whether My Child Can Stay With Relatives?The Preferred Placement

Children often cope far better being placed with relatives than they do when placed with resource families that are strangers to them. In many cases, it is in the child’s best interests to be placed with relatives. New Jersey’s child welfare agency, DCP&P, is required to make reasonable efforts toward placing a child with relatives before considering resource families. But placing a child with relatives can be difficult to coordinate.

So, who makes the final call? Who decides what relative can take the child? And do the parents have a say? These are important questions to ask because unless a parent is proactive, caseworkers might try to place a child with an already licensed resource family because it is often the easiest thing to do.

If the judge decides in the agency’s favor at the Dodd hearing and approves the removal of the child, the issue of where the child will go will be addressed next. It is up to the caseworkers to work with the parents to identify relatives with whom the child can be placed, and this is when the parents—and the parents’ attorneys—can work to ensure the best wishes of the child are protected.

If caseworkers have taken your child—or are threatening to—compile a list of trusted relatives or close family friends who could take your child. Keep in mind, however, the DCP&P will conduct a thorough screening of the people you suggest as well as others in their household. This includes background checks, even if you know the person well. Also, know that if a family member takes custody of your child, he or she will need to take steps to become a licensed resource family. So, before you prioritize your list, consider those factors.

If you want your child to be placed with a relative or a close family friend, you should be working with an attorney to make sure the process goes smoothly. Again, caseworkers sometimes place children with licensed resource families if they can’t get a hold of the relative(s) you suggest or if they feel your relative’s house would not a safe place for your child. This is where an attorney can help you. An attorney can advocate on your behalf and argue that it is in your child’s best interests to be placed with a relative and help coordinate the placement.

If you have questions about placing your child with relatives, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced child abuse defense attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can request your child be placed with relatives and help you through the process step by step. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at info@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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