Our grandchild has just been removed from his home by Child Protective Services. We want to provide a home for him but have not been approved as a Resource Family. Can we have our grandson placed with us prior to being approved via the Resource Family Approval (RFA) process?
Yes. State and federal law provide an explicit preference for placement of foster children into the home of a relative. In addition, state law is clear that, when a child is removed from his or her home, if the child cannot be released back to the parent, the county’s first obligation is to attempt to find a relative. Nothing about Resource Family Approval has changed this preference for relative placement or the obligation to find and place with relatives immediately following removal.
In order to promote placement with a relative or non-related extended family member (e.g. a close family friend), the law allows for an “emergency placement” of the child prior to resource family approval. The word “emergency” is a bit of a misnomer, as the placement prior to approval can occur at any point in the case if a relative or NREFM is identified. A relative or non-related extended family member who has a child placed prior to approval must submit a Resource Family Application (RFA-01(A)) within five business days of a child being placed in their home in order to start the Resource Family Approval process.
In addition to the emergency placement option, a child can also be placed prior to Resource Family Approval if there is a “compelling reason” even if the caregiver is not a relative or non-related extended family member. The compelling reason option is distinguishable from an emergency placement because a child can be placed only once the Home Environment Assessment is completed, meaning their home has been determined to meet health and safety standards. Additionally, the permanency assessment must completed within 90 days of placement.
NOTE: Foster care funding is not available to families until full approval is achieved, BUT counties can use Foster Parent Recruitment and Retention Funds, and/or Emergency Assistance to bridge the gap. At a minimum, counties are now required to provide relatives with a blank copy of form CW 2219 “Application for California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)” so that it can be filed in order to receive temporary funding through CalWORKs. NREFMs and non-relatives are not eligible for CalWORKs funding pending approval, and so will have to rely on whatever financial support the county chooses to make available to these families pending approval.