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Caregiver Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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  1. How can I learn about becoming a foster or adoptive parent?
  2. Once my home is licensed, approved, or certified when will a child be placed with my family?
  3. Will my family and I be able to meet the foster child before placement?
  4. Will my family and I be able to review the foster child’s records before placement?
  5. Will I be told everything about the foster child’s birth family background – both at the time of placement and as new information is received by the county placing agency?
  6. Will my family have to do something different because a foster child has been placed with our family?
  7. As a foster parent, will my name, address and telephone number be kept confidential?
  8. Will I be provided training to care for the foster child in my family?
  9. How does a family member obtain placement of and adopt a related child who is in foster care?
  10. Before a child is placed with my family, will I be told if there are issues relative to the child’s behavior that could jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of my family?
  11. Can I refuse to have a foster child added to my family?
  12. Once a foster child is placed in my home can I request that the child be placed with another foster family?
  13. As the current caregiver, do I have a right to be the first choice for adoption or other permanent plan for the foster child in my home?
  14. If a foster child I previously cared for re-enters foster care, do I have the right to be the first choice for placement?
  15. I have a foster child placed in my home and would like the child’s sibling who is also in foster care placed together in my home - how can I make this happen?
  16. What rights do I have if the Court and / or County decide to terminate the placement, remove the child from my home, and I am not in agreement?
  17. How much notice will I be given if the county placing agency decides that the child will be removed from my home?
  18. If there is an allegation of child abuse and/or neglect made about me or my foster home, what will happen?
  19. What does it mean when there is a ‘Hold” placed on my foster home and the county will not place children into my home?
  20. What recourse do I have as a caregiver when my foster care license is “on hold” or has been suspended or revoked?
  21. How do I find out which social worker is assigned to the foster child in my care?
  22. Who do I call if I have not received the financial stipend for the foster child in my care?
  23. What payment can the caregiver receive for the first months of placement when the child is in the home prior to licensure, approval, or certification?
  24. A county placing agency has told a relative caregiver to apply for CalWORKs instead of foster care payments. What should caregiver do?
  25. What can I do if I feel that the foster care rate set for my foster child should be adjusted?
  26. I feel that my foster child needs counseling and the county placing agency is not providing these services – what can I do as the caregiver to make this happen?
  27. My foster child has extreme behaviors -- how can I as the caregiver obtain additional resources for the child?
  28. Caregiver is employed and must have child care for young foster children – how does caregiver find information on this?
  29. What is respite care and how does a caregiver obtain this?
  30. What is the "Prudent Parent" standard and how does it impact caregivers?
  31. Will I be informed of all case planning and decision making meetings concerning the foster child in my care?
  32. Will I be notified of court hearings related to my foster child?
  33. If there is a court hearing I cannot attend, how will my input be provided to the court?
  34. How will I find out about the decisions made in court?
  35. Where do I get a copy of the county file that contains information about my foster home and my family?
  36. Where can I find information on the comparison of financial and legal benefits of Foster Care, KinGap, Legal Guardianship, and Adoption?

How can I learn about becoming a foster or adoptive parent?
For information on becoming a foster or adoptive parent, call toll-free at 1-800-KIDS-4-US (1-800-543-7487). You can also review Foster Parent FAQs , and County Recruitment and Training Information for orientation meetings, the application process, and current needs in your area.
 
Once my home is licensed, approved, or certified when will a child be placed with my family?
You are eligible for a child to be placed in your home as soon as you are licensed, approved, or certified. However, placement decisions are made at the discretion of the county placing agency. You will be contacted when a child is in need of placement. Many factors such as the needs of the child, the child’s school of origin, and siblings are considered when deciding on placement of a child.

Will my family and I be able to meet the foster child before placement?
In the case of an emergency placement, typically removing children from their parents on an immediate basis, meeting the child in advance is generally not possible. In the cases where the foster child is being moved from another foster home to your home, you should ask the social worker about a Transition plan for the child.
 
Will my family and I be able to review the foster child’s records before placement?
At the time of placement, you have a Right To  receive child information in order to provide for meeting the needs of the children placed in your care. This information will be provided to you by the child’s social worker. In the cases where the child is already known to the county placing agency, the social worker will be able to provide you with the child’s Health Passport a fairly complete picture of the child’s health history, behavioral issues and emotional needs.

Will I be told everything about the foster child’s birth family background – both at the time of placement and as new information is received by the county placing agency?
You will receive limited information about the child’s birth family, full disclosure of which is prohibited by law. The caregiver has a Right To all information that the County is legally allowed to provide in order to enable the caregiver to appropriately meet the needs of children in your care.

Will my family have to do something different because a foster child has been placed with our family?
It is expected that your family will continue your normal routine. It will be important that you are open and honest with the case social worker regarding your family’s values and culture so the social worker can determine if your home would be the best fit for the foster child. The only caveat to this is religious participation. Every foster child has the right to engage in the religion that was practiced in their family of origin or in the religion of the child’s choice. Children in foster care cannot be compelled to participate in a religion that is not of their own choice. (Welfare and Institutions Code 16001.9(a)(10).

As a foster parent, will my name, address and telephone number be kept confidential?
The county will not disclose the address of a foster parent unless ordered by the Juvenile Court. The court requires a showing of good cause prior to ordering the disclosure of your address. Birth parents or the legally responsible caregiver from whom the child was removed have a legal right to have a means of contact with their child, and will be given your name and telephone number at the time of placement. However, in those rare situations where disclosure of any information would cause the foster child or foster home to be exposed to a known threat, the County will ask the Court to order complete confidentiality. If you have a concern about the disclosure of any of your personal information, you should discuss your concerns with the social worker at the time of placement. (Welfare and Institutions Code section 308, Health and Safety Code section 1536, and Rules of Court for 12 month and 18 month reviews).

Will I be provided training to care for the foster child in my family?
Yes. The licensing, approval or certification agency will provide you with any needed Training to ensure the success of the foster child’s placement in your home. You will also be required to participate in training on an annual basis in order to continue licensure, approval, or certification and to have placement consideration. Once a foster child is placed with your family, you will be part of the child’s support team. It is important to keep the social worker and the child’s attorney informed of any additional training you may need to meet the specific needs of the child in your care. Annual training includes informational refreshers and skill building on various topics. Training availability and topics are offered by the County in partnership with the community colleges in your area and can be accessed at the California Community Colleges Chancellors Office Foster and Kinship Care Education (FKCE) Program website. You can also access additional training resource websites by visiting Foster Care and Adoptive Resource Families Recruitment and Training .

How does a family member obtain placement of and adopt a related child who is in foster care?
It is important that family members, once aware that the child is in foster care, immediately contact the county where the child resides to request placement and adoption of the child. Failure to contact the agency quickly (within 30 days of the child’s removal from the parents) may result in the child being placed with and adopted by non-related foster parents. Relatives should create a list of all the family members who would like to have placement and/or adopt the child, with addresses and phone numbers. The list should be submitted in writing to the county, and, if possible, the child’s attorney and/or the juvenile court, and request that placement and adoption assessment or home studies be done on the households listed. Family members should request immediate visitation with the children and request to be invited to Team Decision Making (TDM) meetings or Family Group Conferencing (FGC) where they will have an opportunity to express their interests, hopes and concerns regarding the children. For more information: ACL 09-86 (December 29, 2009) Notification of Relatives; ACIN I-35-11 (June 13, 2011) Finding Relatives for Children in Out-of-Home Placement; ACL 07-39 (October 25, 2007) Temporary Placement Of Foster Child With Relative Or Nonrelative Extended Family Member (NREFM) In An Emergency Situation; ACL 05-13 (June 16, 2005) and ACL 05-13 Errata (February 15, 2006) Relative And Nonrelative Extended Family Member (NREFM) Approvals – Frequently Asked Questions And Answers.

Before a child is placed with my family, will I be told if there are issues relative to the child’s behavior that could jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of my family?
Prior to or at the time of placement, you have a Right To receive child information about difficult and problematic behaviors, including behaviors that may pose a risk to your family, unless a court says otherwise. The county placing agency has a responsibility to make a diligent effort to place children with special needs into those foster family homes that have a higher level of skill, training, and certification, often called Intensive Treatment Foster Care (ITFC) or group home care.
 
Can I refuse to have a foster child added to my family?
Yes. As a foster parent, you are an integral member of the team providing care to a foster child and this includes participating in the initial placement decision. You can and should decline placement of a child if you do not feel you can meet that child’s needs. Making the correct placement decision helps to minimize the trauma a child experiences during placement moves; ensures that the foster child is placed in the home best able to help and support the child; and reduces the risk of a subsequent placement change.

Once a foster child is placed in my home can I request that the child be placed with another foster family?
There are times when a foster family and a foster child are not a good “fit” despite everyone’s best efforts. In order to accomplish a change in placement, you will need to give the social worker a seven (7) day notice that you want the child removed , unless there are special circumstances that would require immediate removal. It is important that you actively participate in the Transition  plan.

As the current caregiver, do I have a right to be the first choice for adoption or other permanent plan for the foster child in my home?
A caregiver has no legal right to be the first choice to become a foster child’s permanent caregiver. The child’s permanent plan is determined by the county placing agency and the court. If you wish to become the child’s permanent caregiver, make your wishes known as soon as possible to the child’s social worker. When determining permanent placement, the county placing agency gives preferential consideration to relatives and concurrent homes – that is, homes that provide foster care and are willing to provide a permanent home for the child if reunification fails. A primary consideration is to keep siblings together and to keep children in homes where they have formed an attachment. The county placing agency is responsible for identifying the permanent placement option and placing the child in that home as early as possible in the dependency process. Other considerations include the needs of the child, relationships to siblings and other relatives to which a child has formed an attachment.

If a foster child I previously cared for re-enters foster care, do I have the right to be the first choice for placement?
The previous foster parent does not have the legal right to be the first choice for placement in the event that a child re-enters foster care. Legally, the county placing agency must first assess non-custodial parents, relatives, and non-related extended family members before considering the former foster parent for placement. If a licensed, approved, or certified foster home is then sought for placement, your home will be considered. The attachment and familiarity the child might have with you and your family is an important factor and will be given consideration. It is important to keep in mind, however, that other factors are also considered, such as the current needs of the child, maintaining their school of origin and the need for placement with siblings. If the child’s needs would be best met by re-placement in your home, the county placing agency has the discretion to do this. (Welfare and Institutions Code section 361.2, 361.3 (a) (7) (E))

I have a foster child placed in my home and would like the child’s sibling who is also in foster care placed together in my home - how can I make this happen?
You should immediately communicate to your foster child’s social worker your desire to have the sibling placed with you. The social worker will discuss this with you and your foster child, if age appropriate. If your communication with the social worker is not satisfactory, you can contact the social worker’s supervisor and your foster child’s attorney. You also have a Right To communicate your interest to the court using the JV 290 Caregiver Information Form. Current policy and federal and state law require the county social worker to make a diligent effort to place siblings together. (WIC 16002) However, circumstances can keep this from happening; one example would be the need for a sibling to be temporarily placed in a specialized foster home where the child has an individualized treatment program and the foster parents are carefully matched to the child and are specially trained and supported to meet the needs of the child until that child can be successfully placed with siblings. (MPP 31-206.311). If it is not possible for the siblings to be in the same placement at this time, law and regulations require that the county placing agency ensure that ongoing and frequent interaction occurs between the siblings to develop and maintain sibling relationships. [WIC 362.1(a)(1)(A)(2)]

What rights do I have if the Court and / or County decide to terminate the placement, remove the child from my home, and I am not in agreement?
If you disagree with the social worker’s recommendation to remove the child, you should first immediately contact the social worker’s supervisor or unit manager and the child’s attorney to discuss your concerns and understand the different perspectives regarding what is in the child’s best interest. If this is not successful, you have the Right To avail yourself of the County complaint and grievance process ; or inform the court by filing the Caregiver Information Form (JV 290) which allows the caregiver to provide information directly to the Juvenile Court regarding the caregiver’s concerns. If the child has been in your home for 6 months or more, file for “De Facto Parent” status (JV 295) to request that the court recognize the child’s present or previous caregiver as De Facto parents and grant standing to participate as parties in disposition hearings and any hearing thereafter at which the status of the dependent child is at issue. See also ACIN I-31-12 (June 8, 2012) Best Practices for Placement Stability
 
How much notice will I be given if the county placing agency decides that the child will be removed from my home?
When the decision is made to Remove/Transition a foster child to a new placement, the county placing agency should provide at least a seven (7) day notice, and should make every effort to coordinate the transition with you to reduce the disruption to your home and reduce the trauma to the foster child. No notice will be given in certain cases where there are Allegations of abuse or neglect in the foster home.

If there is an allegation of child abuse and/or neglect made about me or my foster home, what will happen?
When an Allegation is made, an investigation will be conducted to determine if the allegation is unfounded, inconclusive or substantiated. The county Child Protective Services (CPS) and/or a licensing agency will initiate an investigation into the allegations by conducting a visit to your home, from immediately up to ten days after the County receives a report of the allegations. You generally will not receive advance notice of the allegations made against you, or the home visit, until the social worker arrives at your home . After the investigation is completed, you will be notified by the county CPS, the county placing agency, and/or the licensing agency regarding the outcome of the investigation or the decision made. Depending on the preliminary findings regarding the allegations, the foster child may be removed from your home immediately . If the allegation is substantiated, the county will refer information regarding the caregiver along with case information to the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI) of the California Department of Justice for inclusion in the statewide database. The caregiver will receive notice that referral to CACI is to occur and at the same time, will receive a Request for Grievance Hearing form. This form can be used to challenge the CACI listing. Inclusion of caregiver’s name in the CACI means that no future placements will be made with caregiver. If the allegation is unfounded or inconclusive, the county may continue to place children in the caregiver’s home. However, future placements are still at the discretion of the county [CCL regulation 89045(a)]. For additional information, see ACL 12-21 (April 24, 2012) Child Abuse Central Index (CACI); ACIN I-21-08 (March 26, 2008) Child Abuse Central Index (CACI) Grievance Hearing Instructions; ACL 07-53 (December 28, 2007) Gomez V. Saenz Lawsuit Settlement; ACIN I-22-08 (March 26, 2008) Implementation Activities For Gomez V. Saenz Lawsuit Settlement. 

What does it mean when there is a ‘Hold” placed on my foster home and the county will not place children into my home?
Generally, the county placing agency will identify a foster home as being on “Hold” as to placements and the county placing agency will not use that home as a placement option where an allegation is made, and an investigation is pending or the investigation is being conducted to determine if the allegation is unfounded, inconclusive or substantiated; or there could be issues related to the quality of care in a foster home. The caregiver should be given information regarding this action. If the caregiver feels that inadequate information is provided by the county social worker regarding the “Hold” decision, contact the county social worker’s supervisor. Although all the necessary steps of preparing one’s home and acquiring the proper license, approval, or certification may have been completed, this does not guarantee that a child will be placed with you. Foster care placements are at the discretion of the county placing agency. [CCL regulation 89045(a)]
 
What recourse do I have as a caregiver when my foster care license is “on hold” or has been suspended or revoked?
Your foster care license can be suspended or revoked; however, a foster care license cannot be “on hold”. There is often confusion with the term “hold” which is a reference to the county placing agency’s decision to no longer place children in an identified foster home. A foster home can be “on hold” as to placements as foster care placements are at the discretion of the county placing agency. If a license has been suspended or revoked, foster children in placement will have been removed and the county will not place children with the caregiver pending the investigation and outcome. The caregiver may file a grievance or request a State hearing regarding a license suspension or revocation. The caregiver should contact the agency which issued the license, approval, or certification. Also, contact Community Care Licensing (CCL).

How do I find out which social worker is assigned to the foster child in my care?
You should call the county placing agency and ask to speak with the “Worker/Officer of the Day”. If you happen to call the previously assigned social worker and learn that the case has been transferred, the former social worker or their supervisor should be able to assist you.

Who do I call if I have not received the financial stipend for the foster child in my care?
Call the social worker and ask for the name and contact number for the assigned foster care eligibility worker or the foster care eligibility supervisor. If you are unable to reach the social worker, most counties have a “Worker/Officer of the Day” who can assist you in locating the appropriate person.
 
What payment can the caregiver receive for the first months of placement when the child is in the home prior to licensure, approval, or certification?
If caregivers agree to immediate placement of a foster child prior to licensure, approval, or certification, the county placing agency has the discretion to use “County Only” funds to cover placement costs of the child; or in the case of a relative caregiver, apply for California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) in order to receive payment for the time until licensure, approval, or certification. The county placing agency cannot use State and federal funds for children who are placed in homes that have not yet been licensed, approved or certified. At the time of placement, caregivers should always verify with the social worker or social worker’s supervisor what Payment is available for the foster child and when the payments will start. Verify the date when your home will be licensed, approved, or certified before the county places the child in your home.

A county placing agency has told a relative caregiver to apply for CalWORKs instead of foster care payments. What should caregiver do?
The relative caregiver should immediately apply for California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) at the county CalWORKs office where the caregiver lives. When a child is placed with a relative, the only available foster care Payment is Federal AFDC-FC. However, when the child does not qualify for Federal AFDC-FC (or sometimes referred to as Yoakum), the relative caregiver will be told to apply for CalWORKs as a Non-Needy Relative Caretaker. If you need assistance to verify the accuracy of the eligibility findings, read this helpful guide Relative Caregiver’s Guide to Benefits – Steps to understanding, applying for and receiving the appropriate benefits for foster children – The Alliance for Children’ Rights.

What can I do if I feel that the foster care rate set for my foster child should be adjusted?
Determine if your foster child’s circumstances have changed due to medical, behavioral, or mental health issues requiring additional daily care needs, or you have other new information about the child’s needs. If yes, you should immediately call the child’s social worker and the child’s attorney to discuss the child’s special needs and request information on how to apply for a Specialized Care Increment. Basic foster care rates and Payments are set by the State and are intended solely for reimbursement of the direct costs you incur in caring for the child. Basic foster care rates are set by the State and the county does not have authority to adjust them. However, an additional amount added to the basic foster care rate, called Specialized Care Increments are paid for children with identified needs requiring atypical care and expense. Atypical needs are identified by feedback from those familiar with the child’s needs, including birth parents, foster parents and service providers.

I feel that my foster child needs counseling and the county placing agency is not providing these services – what can I do as the caregiver to make this happen?
It is best to speak to your foster child’s social worker and your foster child’s primary care doctor first to request that your foster child have a health assessment – see Health Passport . It's important to have a medical evaluation first to rule out other causes of your foster child's signs and symptoms. If age appropriate, include the foster child in any discussions regarding the child’s need for counseling.

My foster child has extreme behaviors -- how can I as the caregiver obtain additional resources for the child?
It is best to speak to your foster child’s social worker and your foster child’s primary care doctor first to request that your foster child have a health assessment. Additional resources are available at Health Passport . It's important to have a medical evaluation first to rule out other causes of your foster child's signs and symptoms. If age appropriate, include the foster child in any discussions regarding the child’s need for additional services.
 
Caregiver is employed and must have child care for young foster children – how does caregiver find information on this?
It’s important that you let your child’s social worker know, at time of placement, that you need child care. The California Department of Education maintains a Child Care Resource and Referral Network for information about affordable, accessible, and quality child care in your area. The California First Five Commission (link removed) has information on day care and preschool resources. This site also has information on other resources on a county-by-county basis.
 
What is respite care and how does a caregiver obtain this?
Respite is a request by the foster child's current foster family to have a break. Respite care allows for the foster children to be placed with another caregiver for a short period of time – not to exceed 72 hours per session. These services are not provided for the purpose of routine, on-going child care. Respite is especially helpful when foster children have behaviors such as seen in many therapeutic foster homes. Contact your child’s social worker well in advance of your respite date so the social worker can have adequate time to find a respite family for you. If you find your own respite provider, let the social worker know well in advance who you have chosen and get it approved. Preferably, the foster children will be spending respite with a family known to the children or have your foster child visit with the respite family beforehand. A poorly planned respite can cause more stress for everyone involved: foster family, respite provider, and the foster children. Talk to your foster child well in advance about any planned respite care.

What is the "Prudent Parent" standard and how does it impact caregivers?
The Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard allows for the caregivers to make careful and sensible parental decisions, without prior approval from the case social worker, that support a foster child’s participation in age-appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities; and promote the foster child’s health, safety, and best interest. When making a “Prudent Parent” decision, the caregiver must consider the child’s age, maturity level, mental and physical health, and other relevant factors.

Will I be informed of all case planning and decision making meetings concerning the foster child in my care?
As part of the team supporting the foster child in your care, the county placing agency should make every effort to give you advance notice of meetings and conferences scheduled regarding the foster child in your care. You are strongly encouraged to participate, but if you are unable to, you should document your concerns and submit this to the social worker well in advance of the meeting. The social worker or social worker’s supervisor attending should represent any concerns you have shared with them regarding the foster child. The foster parent is a valued member of the foster child’s team and the county placing agency should promote and support an inclusive and team approach to decision making regarding the children in their care. (Welfare and Institutions Code section 16500.1)
 
Will I be notified of court hearings related to my foster child?
You have a Right To be notified in advance of court hearings and you have the right to attend dependency court reviews and permanency hearings. The county placing agency should provide you with the name, address and department number of the Juvenile Court in which the foster child’s case is to be heard. You have the Right To submit information you deem relevant to the court in writing (JV 290 form). Foster parents currently do not have a legal right to attend Settlement Conferences, Interim Reviews, Mediation or Jurisdictional and Disposition Hearings. For those hearings that resource parents do not have a statutory right to attend, you are encouraged to communicate the status of the foster child to the social worker, social worker’s supervisor, and the child’s attorney. (Welfare and Institutions Code 16010.4)
 
If there is a court hearing I cannot attend, how will my input be provided to the court?
Caregivers have a Right To(link) provide information to the court by filing a JV 290 Caregiver Information Form. You are encouraged to complete and submit this form to the court clerk at least five days prior to the hearing court date. If for some reason the JV 290 cannot be submitted within the timeframe, you can call and speak to the social worker regarding your input. The social worker should make every effort to include your input in their report to the court. (Welfare and Institutions Code section 16500.1)
 
How will I find out about the decisions made in court?
Ask the assigned social worker, social worker’s supervisor, or child’s attorney to communicate this information to you as soon as possible after the court date. (Welfare and Institutions Code section 16501.1(f) (5) (B) and (j).

Where do I get a copy of the county file that contains information about my foster home and my family?
Contact the agency that licensed, approved, or certified your home for information about your foster home. Licensed caregivers are free to review (but not copy) the public side of your licensing case file. This contains information such as a copy of your foster parent license, the capacity of your home, and other general information about your foster care license. Information about your foster home contained in the child’s service case file, however, is under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court and, other than the information you have a Right To , information may only be released with a court order. This requirement remains the same for the foster parents who have de facto parent status. (Welfare and institutions Code section 10850, 827, and Penal Code section 11167.5)
 
Where can I find information on the comparison of financial and legal benefits of Foster Care, KinGap, Legal Guardianship, and Adoption?
Giving a Child a Permanent Home – Choices for Relatives (PUB 344) – this pamphlet will explain some of the major differences among adoption, guardianship, and foster care and the choices a relative has when the relative child cannot return to live safely with his or her parent. The Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment Program (PUB 372)  provides information on the permanency option for children in long-term foster care placements with relative caregivers who have become the child's legal guardian. There’s No Place Like Home (link removed) : A Guide to Permanency Options for Foster Youth – A Comparison of Financial Benefits – choices regarding adoption, legal guardianship, and foster care – adapted from A Guide to Permanency Options for Youth, Alameda County SSA, Updated April 2009.