There are many reasons why third parties (e.g., grandparents, aunts and uncles or friends) may wish to intervene in a child abuse or neglect case. The most common is so that they can have input into the case and be heard as to what they believe is in the best interests of the victim child. Usually, they believe that the child’s best interests include their being awarded temporary or permanent custody of the child. DSS may or may not agree.
It is an uphill fight for anyone who is not the child’s parent to obtain custody in any instance, and the problems are too numerous to list here. Suffice it to say that the longer one waits to express interest in the child, the harder it will be. Once the court has approved a permanent plan to terminate the parents’ right to the child and to place the child for adoption, changing custody will be practically impossible and prohibitively expensive.
A relative or family friend interested in a specific child or sibling group should encourage the parents to name him or her as a placement resource at the start of the case. If that fails, the interested person should immediately notify DSS of their availability as a placement resource. Finally, the interested person can apply to be approved as a kinship foster parent.