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Becoming a Relative Placement for a Child In DCS Custody

Becoming a DCS placement:

When a child is taken away from their parents, relatives and family friends often agree to take in the child so that the child does not have to go into a foster home with strangers. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other family members or persons with a significant relationship with the child have priority for placement. These are called “kinship” placements. DCS is required to investigate potential kinship placements first. If DCS decides not to allow a kinship placement they must report to the court their reasons.

To become an unlicensed kinship placement you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • All adults in the home must clear a Central Registry check and criminal background checks;
  • Must pass a home study; and
  • Must meet the basic health and safety requirements.

The following persons have legal priority for placement:

  1. Parent,
  2. Grandparents,
  3. Extended family or person with a significant relationship.

The Background Check

If you or an adult living in the home does not pass the background check because of a serious crime (Felony) or referrals for child abuse or neglect DCS may deny the placement.

For example, Johnny and Jill are taken are taken away from their parents and DCS wants to place them with their grandparents, Ricky and Lucy, but, their 27 year old nephew, Wally, lives with them and he has a felony conviction for drug possession from five years ago. DCS may not approve the placement because of Wally’s criminal history.

The Home Study

The home study consists of someone from DCS looking around your house to see if it is clean and safe for the child. The DCS representative will also talk with you and everyone residing in the home as well as any personal references you provided on your application. If you are not in good general health or your home is not safe DCS may not approve you as a placement.

Common home issues: unfenced pools, unsafe animals, substantial clutter, insufficient space.


In some situations where placement is needed immediately the DCS case manager can provisionally approve placement after conducting a home inspection.

Tip: Ehen the child is removed by DCS and you learn of the court hearing you may appear at the hearing and introduce yourself to DCS, the court and the children’s representatives and express your desire to be considered as placement for the child.

What to do if you have been denied as a DCS placement.

If DCS decides not to place the child in your home, you will receive a notification letter within 15 days of the decision. The letter will state why you were not chosen. You have the option to ask the assigned Judge to review the decision if you feel that there has been an error. You may also complete a DCS grievance form on the DCS website to have a DCS supervisor look into the issue.

During the home study the DCS representative will give the potential placement the opportunity to correct or clarify DCS referral history and provide information on the situation. However, if information is not sufficient to remedy the safety concern DCS will not recommend placement.  

Tip: Even if you are denied placement you may still have a right to participate in the proceedings and share information you have about the child. You may also request visitation to maintain your relationship with the child. 

At Kile & Kupiszewski we have over 20 years of experience in the area of juvenile dependency law representing parents, grandparents, relatives and foster parents. Having a child in foster care is emotionally difficult for everyone involved. Our juvenile law team knows the child welfare system and can guide you through the process. Call today at 480-348-1590 to discuss your matter and explore your legal options. 

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