How to Handle Custody of My Niece and Nephews So They Don’t Go Into the System

“I’m writing to you with a question in regards to my sister’s three children that have become a ward of the state. Recently my sister has made some bad choices & due to her streak of bad luck that has followed, DCFS has now become involved, having an open case on them. The social worker claims that the children have not been removed from mother, & that her rights have not been taken, but it is now court ordered that they must reside with mom at my home – ”maternal aunt”?

The Court orders state that ”children are to live in home of parent” but both mother & children must reside at maternal aunt’s residence.

What exactly does that mean?

Also I was wondering what rights I have to try & get custody of my niece & two nephews, or even become the foster for them, since they might be in danger of being removed from their mother?

Their father is currently absent & living in another state. My sister got a notarized paper stating that she is giving temporary custody & rights to make all & any decisions in regards to the 3 childrens needs & wellbeing, that both myself & my boyfriend have the right to make those decisions for them as well as us having them live with us in her absence. She obtained this notarized paper shortly after she was visited by a Social Worker who was investigating allegations made on my sister.

What can we do about getting the children placed with us in case they are removed, since we’ve been told that we wouldn’t be approved since we already have 4 kids of our own & with them that makes total of 7, which is past the limit of children allowed in a home, also because our home is too small for us to all live in & because of our 10+ year old criminal history they say makes us unable to have them if removed from mother?

What can we do since the judge has already allowed for these past 2 1/2 – 3 months of being with us, but it isn’t enough for us to continue to have them even if I’ve said that we’re willing to move to a larger place just to keep them with our family & out of the system?”

This is a very complicated situation, and the best thing that you can probably do in these circumstances is to either hire or ask the court to appoint a Guardian ad Litem, which is essentially an attorney or other court-recognized advocate for the children.  At very least, find an attorney in your town who works as a Guardian ad Litem, and have a consultation with them about what you can do.  Juvenile and child-protection law are highly specialized areas of law, requiring knowledge not only of the law but how to work within the various systems (child protective services, juvenile court, family court, etc.) that all intersect with often differing rules.  Good luck!