There was insufficient evidence to support dispositional findings that the Agency exercised due diligence to identify, locate, and contact relatives for placement. Minors were removed due to the parents’ substance abuse issues. Following removal, the Agency contacted both maternal and paternal grandmothers to inquire about Indian heritage. There was no information in the record that either of these relatives were asked about being available as a placement or other interest in participating in the case. The parents also identified a maternal aunt who was not contacted by the Agency. Minors were placed in a non-relative foster home and the court ordered family reunification services at the disposition hearing. Mother appealed and the reviewing court reversed the dispositional finding that the Agency exercised due diligence in locating relatives and otherwise affirmed in all other respects. As an initial consideration, the matter was not forfeited despite a failure to object below because the due diligence findings were never presented to the parents before or at the time they were entered. The record does not contain substantial evidence to support the due diligence findings. Section 309 requires the Agency to conduct an investigation to identify and locate all adult relatives of a child. It further requires the Agency to provide written notification, along with the JV-285 and JV-287 forms, within 30 days of removal to all adult relatives who are located. This written notice must include an explanation of the various options to participate in the care and placement of the child and support for the child’s family. Here, the record does not contain evidence that the Agency provided either grandmother with the necessary written notification and explanation of the various options to participate in the case. Further, the Agency was aware of other relatives, who they did not contact at all. This was error which cannot be deemed harmless. The matter must be remanded for the Agency to exercise due diligence to identify, locate, and contact relatives.
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