This page includes supports for families who are waiting to be reunified, adoptive families and youth transitioning to adulthood.

Foster Care Process

If a child is removed from their parent(s) and efforts to keep the child with safe and appropriate relative or fictive kin are unsuccessful, then HHS works to place them with a licensed foster parent.  When a child is in foster care, the initial goal is always to try and safely reunify the child with their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) they were removed from. The order of who the child will be placed with, if they are removed from their parent(s) (as long as it is safe for the child) is below.

  1. An adult relative of the child including, but not limited to, adult siblings and parents of siblings
  2. Fictive kin
  3. Any other suitable placement identified by the child's relatives
  4. An individual licensed to provide foster care as described in chapter 237
  5. A group care facility, shelter care facility, or other residential treatment facility.

If the parent’s legal rights to their child is terminated by the court, the child may not return to their home and is freed for adoption.

Foster Care and Adoption Definitions

Foster care- When a child is removed from a parent’s custody as a result of juvenile court action and placed in the care and responsibility of HHS.

Kinship care- When a child stays with a relative or fictive kin because they have been removed from their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) and placed in foster care.

Kin- an adult who is a blood relative of the child.

Fictive Kin- An adult person who is not a relative of the child but has a positive emotional relationship with the child or their family.

Guardian- A person who is not a parent of the child, but a court has decided they will have a permanent relationship with the child and help make important life decisions that are in the best interest of the child.

CINA- A Child In Need of Assistance (CINA) has to be decided upon, or adjudicated, by a court. A child will participate in kinship or foster care while the CINA is in place. This court decision will also come with services and programs to help the parent or guardian meet their goals and achieve reunification.

Reunification- A child who was removed from the care of their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) and has been determined by a court to be able to go home and be cared for by their parent(s) or legal guardian(s).

Adoption- When a person who is not a child's biological parent legally has parental rights transferred to them.

Foster Care and Adoption