What happens when children are taken away from a relative?


My mom is anticipating that my sister and her husband will be homeless within a few weeks. My parents have offered to shelter my sister and her kids (ages 3 and 1), but not her husband. I won’t go into the details, but he’s not welcome in my parent’s home for just reasons. My sister is very angry with my parent’s decision not to shelter him.

My mom also thinks my sister might fall apart in the next few months. My brother in law might possibly be in danger of arrest for non payment of child support.

If they were to have the kids handed over to social services, I am wondering if I would be allowed to care for them? How does that work?

I’m not sure where they are headed either. They might be going out of state. They have pretty much run through any family or friends who would shelter them. :frowning:

Welcoming prayers, please, too.


You need to contact your county social services office and a family law attorney. Each state has their own laws regarding this, and there are too many variables including whether or not they voluntarily place the kids with relatives temporarily or permanently versus the state taking the kids into the foster system.


What 1ke said, BUT MAKE SURE you let your sis know you can take them prior to their being removed. In fact, if it should get close to the time, ask her to assign you as temporary guardian BEFORE HAND. That way CPS wont be involved at all.

TRUST ME in this: MOST family services LOVE IT WHEN FAMILY WILL TAKE THE CHILDREN – most don’t have enough foster families to handle the kids. Also, you might want to contact your local family services and have them come out and verify you just in case, you dont have to give names or set your sis up, but you can be pre-approved to take your sis’s kids. Call and ask about it if you live in a metro area as they have the biggest back-log for approval of family members. :thumbsup:


Will they place out of county or state?


it depends on the state, but at least in an emergency placement, most CPS agencies try first to locate relatives that would make good caretakers. In other states you might have to sue for custody, temporary or permanent. if this is a serious possibility I would contact your agency now and find out what you would have to do to qualify as temporary foster care providers for your sister’s children and begin the process to be certified. when we went through a similar family scenario the parents simply assigned custody to the relatives, and CPS was not involved, it was a paperwork filing thing, that started out temporary and became permanent later. going through the foster care system might mean a regular income and medical insurance received on behalf of the children, the other route probably means no extra income, unless the parent is under a support order.


I would worry if they were placed into foster care, the red tape might not allow you to actually get them for one reason or another.

You could try to apply for custody of the children, your sister could possibly agree for a temporary custody agreement.

Try to contact an attorney that deals with family law and ask how they can help.


In our state, “kinship care” takes precedence over foster care. They try to find anybody who knows the children, even non-relative relationships, because it is better for the children to be in a familiar situation. Most states have this attitude and will place children in kinship care before that person even has a chance to be certified. When I took foster parent classes, over half of the people already had kinship placements in their home, and they were even allowed to go through less training than regular foster parents. Definitely call your DCFS and find out as much information as you can now, so that if that sad day comes, you will be ready.

When it comes to placing out of state, many are reluctant to do so because the goal of DCFS, even in kinship placements, is to eventually reunite the children with the parents, and that is hard to do when you are dealing with different states. They want to keep the children close if htey think the parents will get the children back so that the parents can have visitations with the children. Again, this is where you need to talk to DCFS, and also have a heart to heart with your sister.


I actually had custody of my 2yr old neice for several months while my sister and her husband worked on things with childrens protective services. The cousins loved having their cousin around and unlike most foster parents if you do it right you keep a relationship with mom and dad and can keep those family relationships going even if the kids are returned. After all you aren’t the bad guy taking them away…you are just rescuing their kids from going to someone they don’t know. If you believe those children are in danger report, report, report. I did and it eventually worked out so that my sis and her husband got the counseling and the support they needed to make some very positive changes in their lives. It didn’t happen all at once and they are still very much a work in progress but the reunification is going well. Not all family arrangements work well but start thinking about this now and a call to your local cps would be a good idea.


Speaking from experience, whatever you do, GET A WRITTEN CUSTODY agreement. I took in my then 6 y/o granddaughter. We had no written agreement. ! 1/2 years later (about) my daughter took my grand daughter…no warning…no nothing. That was almost 10 months ago. We JUST NOW had an agreement signed. In PA (my home) grandparents have rights. Long and short of it…to protect yourself AND the kids…have a signed custody agreement BEFOREHAND…no matter what.



Thanks for all the info. I didn’t even know where to start. I think I’ll send a card to my sister, letting her know that I’m praying for her and if they get in a tight spot, I can take the boys. I’ll talk to my dh about the next step.

That may be all I can do right now. They are moving somewhere, but are so angry with my parents, they don’t want any of us to know where they are going.

They don’t have a phone. I could go over there, but my BIL won’t let my sister be alone, so I can’t bring up the topic with my sister without him being there. And, I think he would freak out if I suggested that they may get to a point where they might lose their kids.

I’m a little afraid of him just because he seems irrational not because he has done anything physically abusive.

I can’t believe my family has come to this situation. It’s crazy. It’s hard not to have any control. Sometimes, I don’t know why God gives certain people children. :frowning:

Please pray.


I supect that you need something in writing so you can authorize emergency medical care.


My best friend took her sister’s boy in, but the mother won’t sign custody over. It has been very difficult for her to even get medical insurance or care for the boy since he is not legally hers, and she has no written guardianship or custody papers. GET IT IN WRITING!!! Call a lawyer and your CPS to find out what you need to do in your state, as it varies considerably. This boy has bounced back and force by his mother’s choice, when my friends just want to adopt him and keep him. It has been very hard on all of them. :frowning:


Everybody else has given you great advice.

Calling DCFS/ CPS to ask for more information is nothing binding and does not necessarily bind you to use DCFS/ CPS as the go-between if you are just asking for information. I will agree with those who said, the more private you keep this, the better off you are. Even consulting an attorney to find out the “what if” is cheaper in the long run than not being proactive at all.

From my experience with the girls (I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV:D ): A guardianship is not the same as custody **in **Illinois, as it does not terminate the parents’ rights. It appoints guardians of the person (guardians to the children) and/ or guardians of the estate (guardians with power to do whatever to any money to which the children are entitled). A guardian of the person is provided custody of the children, and the right to act on their behalf for medical care of any sort. A guardian of the estate keeps tabson who pays what. Sometimes the guardian of the person IS the guardian of the estate.

In Illinois, a relative who has the children, even with only temporary papers, can go to DHS and FHS. DHS can give the children TANF (used to be called ADFC) with the relative caretaker receiving the money WITHOUT having to list their own household income (known as an RPY recipient). DHS will also contact HFS for Kidcare insurance. DCFS/CPS does not become involved at all if they are not already involved.

**If **Indiana offers tri-copy, fill-in-the-blank forms for petitions, motions and orders, like Illinois does, a lawyer and his or her paralegal could possibly perhaps talk you through your own filing. (Everybody please notice those qualfiers and don’t jump down my throat.) It’s a suggestion, not a command.

KCtheMommy is right when she says most states love it when relatives take the kids. 1ke is right when she says you need to ask DCFS/CPS and a private attorney for more information. puzzleannie is right about contacting somebody NOW. Katie, Joe and Teakafrog are right when they say get it in writing (preferably through a court!). Jodi is a fine example of how things can work to the good of the children.


Get it in writing but get it throught the court system, not just something your sister wrote. MAKE IT LEGAL!



No advice, but praying for this situation.


thanks, it’s breaking my heart.


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