It Is Important to Have a Clean Record
Video Transcribed: How do grandparents become foster parents in the state of Oklahoma? Hi, I’m Tulsa Grandparents Rights Attorney, Justin Mosteller, and I’m going to spend a few minutes with you today answering this question. The process for becoming a foster parent in Oklahoma is fairly simple on the grandparent’s side. Let’s talk a little bit about why a foster parent might be necessary.
In situations where the parents are unfit or have done something that rises to the level of what’s called a deprived petition, the child will be removed from the parent’s custody and placed in either a kinship foster placement or a traditional foster placement.
Now a kinship foster placement is what it says it is. It’s a placement of the children with a family member or a relative, or even a friend of the family, somebody that the parents trust, somebody that the courts trust to act in the best interest of the child.
Traditional foster placement is what you think of when you think of foster placements. It’s being placed in a foster home with a family that has decided they want to foster, or in a worst-case scenario, placed into a shelter with other children in need of foster care.
In order to be a foster placement for your grandchild, it’s really about having a clean record first and foremost. DHS will do an investigation. They are required by law to make an attempt to place a child with family first.
They have to show that they used their best efforts to do so. And the way that they do that is they will interview family members. In fact, they ask the parents to provide contact information for all possible family members, and they will interview those family members and then they will do a pretty in-depth background check.
This happens a lot. If you’ve got any DHS history in your background, that can be disqualifying. In fact, it usually is. DHS does not really take it upon themselves to dig deep into the facts of a previous DHS case that involved the grandparents. They just blanket disqualify, and the courts usually support that decision. In that scenario though, it’s not over yet necessarily. I have represented many grandparents who have been in the situation where a deprived case has been filed and DHS has erroneously disqualified them.
At that point, you can file a motion to intervene in the deprived case, which is the first necessary step, so that you actually have to stand to address the court in the case, since you’re not the parent. Once that motion to intervene has been granted, you can file a motion for placement and/or concurrent jurisdiction.
Concurrent jurisdiction is required if you’re going to ultimately seek guardianship, but what we’re talking about today is really placement. So you file that motion for placement, and you get a hearing, where the attorney for the children, the attorney for each of the parents, typically they’ll have their own individual counsel in a deprived case, can all speak their piece about where they would like the child to be. And DHS will have to get up and explain themselves as to why the grandparent was disqualified. And you’ll be allowed to present evidence that you should not have been disqualified.
Ultimately, if you have a DHS background, if it’s old enough, if it’s explainable, it can be done. But if it’s recent or involves neglect or abuse, that’s a tougher hill to climb. At that point, maybe my advice that this is not the way you should pursue getting visitation.
With all that in mind, I hope I’ve answered some of your questions about this topic. If you have any more questions, feel free to seek counsel from our office to speak with a Grandparents Rights Attorney in Tulsa, we’d be happy to help.