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Guide for Relative Caregivers

Becoming a Relative Caregiver

There are times when children cannot live with their parents because of neglectful or abusive family situations. When this happens, Child Protective Services (CPS) seeks family members or close family friends to care for the children temporarily until the issues that caused their removal can be addressed. Children often do better and feel more secure living with people who are familiar to them while their parents work on the problems that caused the need for removal. As a relative caregiver, the care you provide can nurture the children’s growth and development as well as contribute to the family’s healing.

If you are a potential caregiver, a CPS caseworker will meet with you and your family to complete a home study and various background checks before recommending a placement to the court. As part of the home study, the caseworker will:

  • Meet with you and other family members to discuss the children’s circumstance and needs;
  • Visit your home to ensure that it is in good condition, clean and safe, with enough space to accommodate the children; and,
  • Complete various background checks, including police incident reports, arrest records and CPS history for all individuals over 18 years-old residing in your home. Prior police or CPS involvement is evaluated but will not automatically disqualify your household from becoming a resource for children.
Direct Family Court Ordered Placement of Relative Children

FYI: Direct court ordered placement is often referred to as “NDocket” placement or custody.

After exploring various placement options, including applying to be a kinship foster parent, and it is determined that direct placement is in the children’s best interest, the caseworker will make that recommendation to the court.

Suffolk County Family Court has the authority to place children with fit and willing relatives or close family friends when necessary.

Once you have been approved and the judge has ordered the children into your custody, your responsibilities will include:

  • Meeting with the supervising caseworker regularly, and making the children available;
  • Ensuring that the children’s educational, medical, mental health and dental needs are met (The court order gives you the authority to enroll children in school and authorize medical treatment.);
  • Transporting the children to all appointments and activities;
  • Assisting with visits between the children and their parents;
  • Providing notice to the caseworker prior to taking the children out of the state and/or making arrangements for other persons to care for the children; and,
  • Working with the caseworker toward the return of the children to their parents, adoption or other permanent living arrangement.

There is no way to foresee how long the children will live with you, however, you may need to be prepared for a lengthy commitment.

Assistance and support to help you provide care for the children:

  • The caseworker can help with referrals to treatment providers and assist with school matters. Caseworkers spend much of their time in the field. If you need to reach the worker and they are unavailable, please ask to speak with their supervisor.
  • You may be eligible to receive Public Assistance to help you financially provide for the children.
  • If the parents have not provided health insurance for the children and you are unable to add them to your policy, they may be eligible for Medicaid or Child Health Plus. You will need to apply on their behalf.

The department may be able to help with childcare for the children in your custody.

It is your responsibility to keep the caseworker informed about the children and to let them know if any issues or concerns arise.


Questions regarding Relative Caregivers: (631) 853-KIDS (5437)

Emergency Services (After 4:30 pm, Weekends, Holidays): (631) 854-9100

Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901