Each State defines "relative" differently, including relatives through blood, marriage, or adoption ranging from the first to the fifth degree. Generally, preference is given to the child's grandparents, followed by aunts, uncles, adult siblings, and cousins.
The main requirements for placement are that the relative be fit and willing, able to ensure the child's safety, and able to meet the child's needs. Several states require relatives to undergo a criminal background check that may include all adult members of the household.
Relatives with whom a child is placed for foster care are given preference for permanent placement if a reunion with the child's birth parents is determined not to be in his or her best interest.