Foster care is intended as a temporary placement resource for children when, for safety reasons, they are unable to be cared for by their parents. Relatives are the preferred temporary and permanent placement resource for children in foster care. In limited circumstances, a foster parent may become an adoptive resource for a child.
Oregon Revised Statute and Oregon Administrative Rules direct the Department to give preference for placement among relatives and among siblings. Caseworkers are responsible for engaging relatives and considering placement when it is safe to do so and is in the child's best interest.
Sometimes children are placed in non-relative foster care even when there are available relatives. This can occur when relatives do not live in close proximity to the child and the child cannot be moved away from the biological parents while reunification efforts occur, or when relatives only wish to be considered for permanent placement. At any time throughout the foster care placement of a child, an identified and interested relative must be given consideration and a preference for placement of the child.
When it is determined a child cannot be safely returned home, the Department must implement an alternate permanent plan that includes consideration of adoption first. As with foster care, when identifying potential adoptive resources for a child or sibling group, the caseworker must consider relatives first. A relative, as defined in our rules, includes but is not limited to those with blood relationships, adoptive parents of siblings, an unrelated biological parent of a half sibling, and persons although not related by blood, adoption, or marriage are identified as a member of the family due to their significant relationships.
Only when a diligent search and engagement determines there are no interested or viable relative resources, may the Department consider a foster provider as an adoptive resource. At that point a foster parent may request consideration as a Current Caretaker (a foster parent who has been identified as a potential adoptive resource for a child or sibling group) as long as they meet specific standards. Current Caretakers may be considered as adoptive resources alone or they may be considered along with other families known as general applicants.