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What is the Resource Family Approval (RFA) process?
Resource Family Approval is a caregiver approval process that a foster parent(s), relative, non-relative extended family member (NREFM), or adoptive parent(s) completes to be considered for potential placement of a child, youth or young adult (non-minor dependents ages 18 to 21 years old).
What is a resource parent?
A resource parent is an individual, couple or family who cares for a related or unrelated child(ren) who is under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, or otherwise in the care of a county child welfare agency or probation department.
What are the requirements?
- Resource parents are ready and willing to open their heart and arms to a child(ren) just as they are regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and special needs.
- Resource parents need to be 18 years old or older and in good health.
- Resource parents can own or rent your their residence.
- They may be single, married, or in a domestic partnership.
- They must have sufficient income to meet their own financial needs.
- Resource parents need to provide a child(ren) their own bed and space to store their belongings.
- Resource parents support and maintain the child(ren)’s ties to their family which includes their biological parents, siblings, and extended family members.
- Resource parents learn about and be respectful of the child(ren)’s connections with his or her religion, culture, and ethnicity.
- Resource parents work in partnership with Social Services’ staff to ensure the best care for the child(ren).
Is there support available?
You are part of our team and we will be there to support you. A team of social workers will work beside you to help with the approval process and link you to services for as long as you have children in your care. Whether you foster or adopt, the children you care for will receive medical and dental coverage. Further, you will receive monthly financial support until the child is 18 and sometimes longer. If a child has special mental health and/or medical needs, increased foster care and adoption assistance payments are available. Extended foster care and extended adoption assistance are available up to age 21, if a young adult who was in foster care or adopted meets very basic qualifications. To inquire about becoming a resource parent, call (888) 871-5437 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is an adoptive parent?
An adoptive parent is someone who provides a permanent, safe, stable, and loving home for a child(ren) when it has been determined they cannot safely return to their birth parents or relatives.
May I be both a foster and an adoptive parent?
Absolutely! Our greatest need is for foster parents willing to help birth parents reunite with their children. However, when reunification is not possible, we also need permanent, adoptive homes.
How do I know what type of parent I should be?
The process of becoming a resource parent (which includes being a foster and adoptive parent) is specifically designed to help you discover what is right for you and your family. Our classes and family assessments are conducted by friendly, experienced social workers that will work with you in determining the types of children you can best parent.
Who may become a resource parent?
Becoming a resource parent requires flexibility, a good sense of humor, a willingness to grow and learn, but most of all, a commitment to provide a safe, stable, nurturing, and loving home for a child.
- You may be single, married, divorced, or living with a partner. Further, you can live in an apartment or house and either rent or own.
- There is no minimum income, as long as you can support yourself and provide a safe and stable home for yourself and a child.
- You may work. For working parents, appropriate childcare arrangements need to be made.
- You may be of any race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or culture.
How many children may I have in my home?
California State standards determine the maximum number of children that may be placed with a family, based in part, on the number of other children living in the home. Additionally, consideration is given to several other factors when placing children, including the resource parent’s experience with children, and how much room is available in the home.
What are some resource parent characteristics?
The Social Services Agency looks for people who:
- Are willing and able to provide safe, nurturing care for children.
- Display strong communication skills.
- Are problem solvers.
- Express, accept and understand feelings.
- Demonstrate the maturity and capacity to provide for the emotional and physical needs of a child in crisis.
- Work cooperatively as a member of a professional team.
What are the types of resource parents?
- Resource parents may provide regular/long-term care for children placed in homes for six to 12 months. Actual timeframes may vary to allow the children’s parents time to address their issues.
- Resource parents willing to be trained to meet the special needs of children and youth requiring more intensive services may become part of a “specialized” foster care program. Additional training and support are provided to specialized resource parents. Examples of “specialized” programs in Orange County currently include:
- Emergency Shelter Care: short-term, emergency family-based care, from as little as several hours to a maximum of 30 days
- Special Medical Care: family-based care for children displaying a wide range of medical needs, which may include temporary illnesses or injuries or chronic, life-long medical conditions
- Developmental Disabilities Care: family-based care for children displaying developmental and/or physical disabilities
- Treatment Foster Care Oregon-OC: family-based care for children and youth between the ages of 12 and 18 with emotional and behavioral challenges. On-going training is provided to caregivers and 24/7 support is available, from a team of professionals.
What are the benefits of being a resource parent?
Placing children with a resource parent can transform their lives, but they are not the only ones who benefit from the arrangement!
Being a resource parent/family is extremely rewarding and, for many caregivers, it is a calling rather than a job. Of course there are highs and lows, but the positive outweigh any negatives.
Some of the rewards of fostering include:
- Helping others is extremely satisfying. Knowing you are providing a child with a stable environment when he or she needs it most is one of the most positive aspects of fostering.
- Fostering offers opportunities to expand your skills through training. Trainings provide tools to help as you give quality parenting to children/youth in your care. These skills are also transferable to other areas of your life.
- Developing life-long relationships may be a source of great joy for both resource parents and youth. Sometimes fostering may lead to long-term placements, or even adoption. A strong bond nurtured over a lifetime is the ultimate reward.
- Money should never be the driving force to fostering, but the financial allowances help provide the child with certain needs.
Will I have to complete training to be approved?
Pre-service training is provided to all potential resource parents. Your spouse or domestic partner is also required to attend. Classes are held on weekdays, evenings and Saturdays. CPR/First Aid is required and provided.
Additional training is offered year round and resource parents are invited to attend. A minimum of eight hours of annual training is required to maintain current knowledge and encourage growth.
Do children in care need individual bedrooms?
No, children are not required to have their own bedrooms. Children may share bedrooms with other children placed in the home or with the resource parents’ biological children of the same sex. Generally, there is a limit of four children to a bedroom. However, each child must have his or her own bed. A child under the age of 2 may share a bedroom with the resource parent(s).
Are there costs involved with resource parenting?
Resource parents may incur some costs during the approval process. For example, resource parents are required to be certified in CPR/First Aid for infants, children and adults, which is provided at no cost to applicants. If a resource parent applicant elects to meet this requirement by attending a class in the community, there may be a fee associated with that class.
Other potential costs may involve home improvements necessary to meet licensing standards, such as adding pool or spa covers, fencing or child protective gates.
Children and Youth in Foster Care
Who are the children in foster care?
Children range in age from newborn to 21. Their backgrounds cross all ethnic and economic lines and most have experienced abuse, neglect or abandonment. They may also have experienced physical, emotional or social deprivation in their early years.
Resource parents are especially needed for teenagers, brothers and sisters, teen mothers and their babies, and children with special medical, educational, behavioral, and/or emotional challenges.
How do these children come under the Agency's care?
Children come to the attention of the Juvenile Court and are ordered placed in out-of-home care when they cannot remain safely with their own families because of abuse or neglect. The laws governing the reasons children may be removed from their birth families are established and monitored by the state and federal governments. Dependent children in out-of-home care rely on Social Services Agency staff and resource parents working as a team to provide temporary, safe and loving home environments.
May we choose the child we want?
During the RFA approval process, prospective resource parents may indicate their preferences regarding the ages and sex of children for whom they may provide care. At that time, the social worker will check the resource parent’s home to determine whether the physical design and layout of the home can accommodate the preferences expressed by the resource parents. For example, if the applicant expresses a preference for placement of children under the age of 10, the social worker will check to ensure the home is safe for young children by making sure there is a fence around any bodies of water, including a swimming pool or spa.
Placement social workers coordinate with approved resource parents to try and match children with resource parents best suited to meet a specific child or sibling group’s needs. Placement social workers also try to honor the preferences expressed by resource parents regarding the ages and sex of the children they prefer to welcome into their home.
What are the needs of children in care?
Children everywhere, including children in out-of-home care, require food, shelter, medical care, education, and safety. Additionally, children require support, encouragement, reassurance, structure, security, and love.
Understandably, many children in out-of-home care may be frightened and confused at the sudden separation from their parents; some may be angry; and others may think they are being sent to foster homes as a punishment for something they might have done. Even babies may be fretful and irritable initially.
Fortunately, such concerns tend to gradually lessen over time as children in foster care are provided with the safety, structure, security, basic needs, and nurturing all children require. At times, however, it may be necessary to provide some children with additional services, such as counseling, tutoring, specialized medical care, or behavioral coaching, which may be provided by the Agency.
How long does a child in out-of-home care stay in the resource family home?
The Agency’s goal is to reunite families as soon as safely possible. Children are typically placed in resource family homes for six to 12 months, although the actual timeframes may vary to allow their parents time to address the issues that brought the children to the attention of the Juvenile Court.
Is there contact with the child's parents?
It is in both the children’s and parents’ best interests to remain in regular, on-going contact whenever possible – especially since the goal, in most cases, is for children to return to their families. Thus, the Juvenile Court is required to order a visitation plan that shall be as frequent as possible between the child and his or her parents, consistent with the well-being of the child.
Resource parents may encourage the children’s birth parents to actively pursue reunification by completing their court-ordered case plans. Additionally, resource parents may model appropriate parent-child interactions whenever possible.
What educational services are available to children in care?
Many children in out-of-home care attend public schools in the resource parents’ neighborhoods. However, in order to maintain continuity and consistency, some children will attend the schools they attended prior to becoming connected to foster care or the schools they last attended.
Additionally, some children may qualify for special education and support services, which are available and must be provided through the schools. At times, a child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will call for the child to attend a specific school placement at a non-public school (NPS).
May we take the children on vacation with us?
Generally, resource parents are encouraged to take children they are caring for on vacation with them. Resource parents are instructed to contact each child’s social worker as soon as possible to discuss any upcoming vacations or travel plans so that the appropriate arrangements can be made well in advance. Additionally, resource parents are advised to contact each child’s social worker as soon as possible to inquire as to whether there are any travel restrictions for the child.
Out-of-state travel requires advanced approval from the child’s social worker and notification of the Juvenile Court. Travel outside the country requires approval from the child’s social worker and the Juvenile Court, which will necessitate additional paperwork and advanced planning.
What if I work outside the home?
Resource parents may work outside the home and in some circumstances childcare assistance is available. Depending on the child’s age, there may be a need for daycare or after-school care while the resource parent is at work. In such cases, it is strongly recommended that resource parents use licensed daycare providers to ensure the childcare provider has undergone the appropriate background checks and met all other licensing requirements. Resource parents are also required to provide the child’s social worker with contact and other information regarding the child’s daycare provider so that this information can be provided to the child’s attorney and the Juvenile Court.
Additional information regarding childcare for children in out-of-home care is available for resource parents as needed.
Is there financial assistance?
Resource parents receive a monthly reimbursement provided by the Agency for the child’s food, clothing and incidentals. The amount varies based on the special needs of the child. All funds provided are intended for the child’s needs while in out-of-home care.
Fostering to Adopt
May resource parents adopt children in foster care?
The federal government requires child protection agencies to support reunification between children and their parents, while at the same time developing permanent plans for the children in case reunification efforts fail. This is called concurrent planning.
Children may be placed with concurrent planning families when reunification with their biological parents appears unlikely, yet the legal timelines for reunification have not been completely fulfilled. At other times, children are placed with concurrent planning families when there are no reunification services offered to the biological families or when reunification efforts have failed.
As active members of teams dedicated to obtaining the best possible outcomes for children in out-of-home care, resource parents might assist the teams in the development of permanent plans for children in situations where safe reunification is not possible and when the children have not been placed in concurrent planning homes.
Does Orange County offer post-adoption and reunion services?
Children adopted through the Orange County Social Services Agency may be eligible for the Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) based on their history of dependency and special needs.
AAP generally provides a monthly stipend, along with Medi-Cal, until the children reach the age of 18 (or, in some cases, the age of 21).
Adoptive parents may qualify for a federal tax credit for the adoption of an eligible, special needs child. Adoptive parents may additionally qualify for a state tax credit for an adoptive child who was in the custody of a California public child welfare agency.
Wraparound services may be available to children and families in cases in which issues start to surface after the adoption has been finalized. Wraparound services involve a team of professionals who provide intensive services to the adoptive family in an effort to stabilize the placement.
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