Resource Family FAQ

    Children/youth of all ages and all ethnic and economic backgrounds need foster care. It is vital to share that children/youth in care are first and foremost children. They laugh, they love, they have pets, and they have best friends. Children/youth in foster care are going through a very hard time in their own families related to abuse and neglect. Like adults, children/youth can be depressed, anxious, fearful, and angry. Some have emotional, medical and/or developmental challenges. They may have delayed social skills and/or special school needs. Like all kids, children/youth in foster care need stability, comfort, and routine in their lives. Resource (foster) families help children/youth feel a sense of permanency in a world that may have previously appeared tattered, disjointed and confusing. 

    Resource (foster) parents are urgently needed to care for children/youth who cannot live and be cared for by their relatives or extended non-related family members. Resource (foster) parents fulfill a vital role in ensuring that children/youth are safe and nurtured to grow and thrive.  

    Resource (foster) parents are especially needed to care for: 

    •Older children and teenagers.  

    •Children with special medical, emotional, developmental, and educational needs.  

    •Drug-exposed infants.  

    •Sibling groups.  

    The Department of Family and Children’s services (DFCS) makes every effort to place children/youth with resource (foster) families who can provide the right family space for a specific child(ren)/youth. This helps to provide comfort and hope. The goal of DFCS and the Juvenile Dependency Court is to reunify children/youth with their birth/legal parent (s) if and when it is safe. We need every resource (foster) family to support the goal of reunification while also being committed to providing a permanent home if the birth/legal parents are unable to reunify. This blending of helping children/youth and parents to reunite while making plans for permanence (adoption or Legal Guardianship) if reunification is not possible is called "Concurrent Planning." You will work closely with the child/youth’s social worker, your Resource Family Support Team member, the school, child advocates, therapists, and other professionals. You will also work with the child/youth’s birth/legal family by giving support to visitation with parents/siblings and the child/youth’s relationships with extended family. 

    The Department of Family and Children’s Services does its best to match a child/youth with a resource (foster) family that can best meet the child/youth’s needs. Some resource (foster) parents prefer to work with teenagers or sibling groups. Others do better with young children or children/youth with special needs. You can specify the age and gender of the child/youth you prefer. We suggest you explore with your RFA social worker what children/youth would best fit in with your family and your parenting interests.​

    The Department of Family and Children’s Services tries to have all resource (foster) families approved within 90 days of submitting a RFA application. The time frame can depend on a variety of reasons such as results of background checks, how quickly you complete the Pre-approval training, and Assessment. The process to select a child for placement with you may take longer. This can depend on your preferences and the needs of the children needing placement. 

    All potential resource (foster) parents must attend Pre-approval Training. This training is 27-hours of instruction. It covers topics such as, the dependency court system, role of the social workers, attachment issues, grief and loss, discipline and impact of trauma. It also includes types and effects of abuse and neglect. Resource (foster) parents must also complete Pediatric and Adult first aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training. Initial certification must be an in-person hands-on training class and must be completed within 90 days of approval.  

    Fostering a child/youth is not the same as parenting a child born to you. You will need to support the child/youth placed in your home around their feelings about their birth/legal family and about being in foster care. You will work with the child/youth’s social worker and other professionals to learn how to work well with the child/youth’s birth/legal family. You will also work with them to know how to respond to the child/youth’s behaviors before and after visits with the parents and other people important to the child/youth, such as brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Resource (foster) parents must complete 8 hours of post approval in-service training every year. There are interesting and useful classes are offered throughout the year. The training and support we provide will help you have the tools to make the placement a success. ​

    Resource (foster) family applicants and all the adults who live in their homes or come to the home on a regular basis must submit to a live scan. Federal and State criminal records are checked, as are California child abuse and neglect records. In some cases, child abuse and neglect records in other states will be checked. For applicants who have lived in another state in the previous 5 years, a Megan’s Law check is also performed.    

    Each applicant or adult in the home’s criminal and/or child abuse history are reviewed on a person-by person basis. If there is criminal or child abuse history, an applicant or other adult in the home will need to work closely with the RFA social worker to complete a criminal/child abuse history exemption. If an exemption for an applicant is denied, the RFA application will not be approved. An exemption for an adult residing in the home or an adult that visits the home often can be denied. If it is denied that adult will not be allowed to reside or visit the home. Also, the application will not be approved until that adult has left the home.  ​

    Age requirements are flexible as long as your health status and energy level can keep up with the needs and activities of a child/youth living in your home.  ​

    Resource (foster) families who are not related to the children/youth in their home receive support through the Resource and Advocacy Support Services program (RASS). The RASS program is through our partner agency Seneca Family of Agencies. When a Resource (foster) family receives a child/youth into their home, they are assigned a Resource Family Home Advocate. The resource family home advocate provides support through monthly visits to the resource (foster) family or more often if needed. They also give support through regular phone calls, and useful information and encouragement. They also support the family and ensure that any unique challenges the resource (foster) parents face are addressed by the Department of Family and Children’s Services. The resource family home advocates also provide referrals to community services, respite care, and childcare for working resource (foster) parents. Federal and State foster care reimbursement programs provide funding for the care and supervision of children/youth in foster care. Resource (foster) parents receive a reimbursement check on a monthly basis for each child/youth placed in their home. There is a standard basic rate paid, and children/youth may be eligible for special care increments based on medical or emotional/behavioral issues that are documented by a treating professional.  Other funding beyond the basic rate is available for resource (foster) families caring for teenagers and sibling groups of 3 or more children/youth.  

    Resource (foster) parents also benefit from the services and programs through the Kinship, Adoptive and Foster Parent Association (KAFPA). The KAFPA resource center is located at the Department of Family and Children’s Services building in downtown San Jose. KAFPA does have a low yearly membership fee however, being a member of the group is not required to engage in many of the programs and trainings offered. Upon being approved as a resource family, you will get a free membership for the first year you are a resource parent. The KAFPA center is where many of the trainings given to resource (foster) parents are held. On-site is the Director of KAFPA, a resource specialist, resource (foster) parents who volunteer, a resource library and a clothes closet. KAFPA also sponsors many special events for resource (foster) families through the year. 

    Other benefits for children/youth in foster care include the following: 

    • Medical Coverage - Most children/youth qualify for the State medical insurance program, Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal pays for medical, dental, counseling and other health related expenses. Some children/youth are covered by their birth/legal parent’s insurance.  

    • Clothing Allowances - When a child/youth first enters care, an initial clothing allowance is provided based on the age of the child/youth. Although part of the monthly basic care and supervision rate is intended for the purchase of clothing, an annual clothing allowance is also provided. More funding for clothing due to unusual or unforeseen situations is also available.  

    • Child Care Program - A childcare reimbursement program is available for working resource (foster) parents of young children.   

    • Respite Care Program - Resource (foster) parents can receive reimbursement for respite care to attend in service training or handle a family emergency. Respite care can also be used simply to take a "break" from the daily demands of parenting. Some resource (foster) parents find their calling in being respite care providers for their fellow resource (foster) parents.  

    • Sibling Supplement Program – Resource (foster) parents for sibling groups of 3 or more children/youth may receive extra funding for each child/youth every month. They may also receive assistance with preparing their homes for providing care to sibling groups of 3 or more.  

    • Liability Insurance - Santa Clara County provides liability insurance for resource (foster) parents. This insurance covers both property damage and bodily injury to third parties attributable to the actions of a child/youth placed in their home. In addition, it also provides limited insurance coverage if a child/youth causes damage the resource (foster) parent’s property.  

    • Special Funds - The child/youth’s social worker can request special funds to meet a foster child’s unique social, emotional and recreational needs.  

    • There are emergency funds provided to resource (foster) families who take children/youth on an emergency basis. These funds are to cover immediate needs of the child/youth, such as toiletries, food, and clothing. 

    After a child/youth first enters foster care, the goal is to reunite the child/youth with their birth/legal family. It is important to know that whenever it is safe and possible, it is best for children/youth to return home to their families. This means that resource (foster) parents will help prepare children/youth for reuniting with their family. There are children/youth who cannot return home to their families due to risk and safety issues. For those children/youth it is important that there is a resource (foster) family who can provide that child/youth with a permanent home through Adoption or Legal Guardianship. To increase stability and wellbeing for children/youth in foster care while the birth/legal parents work toward reunification, DFCS identifies an alternative permanency placement plan with a chosen resource (foster) family. This is called concurrent planning, and provides the child/youth with stability and security.  

    Concurrent planning for some children/youth has proceeded past trying to reunify the children with their birth/legal family. These children are often a little older, pre-teens and teens, who are growing up in foster care. California law requires that DFCS continue to explore whether or not adoption or guardianship would be in the child’s best interest. Older children are adopted and make great sons and daughters and need permanency as much as younger children.  

    If a child/youth is not able to reunify with their family, the chosen resource (foster) parent will work with the child/youth’s social worker to begin the adoption or legal guardianship process. Resource (foster) families that wish to adopt a child/youth from the foster care system may need to complete more requirements in order to be able to complete the adoption process. These requirements are separate from the Resource Family Approval.  ​

    California State law requires that a family/individual be approved under the Resource Family Approval Program to care full-time for an unrelated child under the age of 21. See more information on the RFA program and the RFA written directives: https://cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/resource-family-approval-program​ 

    Each county Child Welfare Department in California is responsible for approving families who want to care for unrelated children/youth in foster care. There are also Foster Family Agencies (FFA) who contract with the State to approve and monitor resource (foster) families as well.​

    No. There may be some cost for getting your home ready to meet health and safety standards. For example, you must have enough sleeping space, although a child/youth  is generally not required to have his or her own room. Your home must have working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Water and sewage systems must meet state guidelines. Weapons, harmful chemicals, and medicines must be locked up or kept out of reach. When caring for children under 10 years of age or children/youth who have disabilities, swimming pools and other bodies of water must be covered or fenced in.  ​

    The Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) may share confidential and/or personal information with another County, Department, or foster family agency. This information is shared for the purpose of the Resource Family Approval Program, or for the purpose of placement of children/youth with a resource (foster) family. DFCS takes confidentiality very seriously for its resource (foster) parents and the children/youth in foster care. Your RFA social worker or recruiter can provide more information about confidentiality and consent to share your personal/confidential information.  

    When you share your home with a child/youth in foster care, the child/youth’s family will learn something about you and your family through the child/youth. You may also share about yourself with the child/youth’s family as you interact with them around the child/youth. The child/youth’s social worker will also give a basic information about your family to the birth/legal parents once a child/youth is placed in your home. You will be provided key information about the child/youth’s family that is needed for you to know and understand. This is so that you will know how to provide the best to care to that child/youth. Ideally, a child/youth will benefit greatly from seeing their resource (foster) family and birth/legal family respecting one another and working together. In this way, the child/youth will receive the best care and quality parenting.  ​

    Resource (foster) parents may be married, single, separated or divorced, LGBTQ or same-sex families, and any religious background. They may own or rent their home or apartment. They must also have enough space for an added child/youth.

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