About Relative Caregiving
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services operates from a family-centered approach, understanding that it can be emotionally difficult for a child to be separated from their parents. When a child must be removed from their home, DCFS makes every attempt to place children with a family member or a non-related adult close to the child (“non-relative extended family member”) to provide as much stability and familiarity for the child as possible.
The resources below are only available to relative caregivers. However, relative caregivers also have access to most Foster Parent Resources offered by DCFS.
Foster Parent Resources
In many instances, relatives are asked to care for a family member’s child because of emergency situations. These unexpected circumstances can be challenging. If you receive a call from DCFS about placing a young family member in your care, here are some things to expect:
An in-home inspection
A social worker will determine if your home and grounds are free of conditions that pose a risk to the health and safety of the child or children.
Criminal records check
A quick-results criminal records check will be completed for every adult living in the home through the CLETS database. After that is complete, Livescan fingerprinting must occur within five days of the placement.
If the CLETS check shows any criminal convictions for any adult in the home, a child cannot be placed on an emergency unless the conviction is eligible for exemption. Arrests do not require an exemption, but they might be cause for a delay in placement until more information is gathered.
Check for prior child abuse or neglect
All adults living in the home will be searched on the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI). The social worker and/or the court might decide not to make an emergency placement if the CACI report raises any child safety concerns.
Begin the Resource Family Approvals Process
Relative caregivers who accept a child into their home on an emergency basis must become approved resource families to remain caregivers for their family member. This process must begin within five days of a child being placed in their home.
Learn more about the RFA Process.
Requesting Placement of a Child
If a child in your family or extended family is currently living in foster care and you would like them to be placed with you, you may request a placement through the following process:
Inform the social worker
It is important that DCFS knows you are interested in caring for the child in your family. The law requires county agencies to give first priority to relatives and extended family members. In some cases, there may be more than one social worker assigned to the child’s case. Make sure to inform each one, as they do not always share information.
If you do not know who the social worker is, call the Kinship Resource Center at (888) 694-7263 and tell them you are a relative for a child who has been removed from their home and ask to contact their social worker. You will need the child’s full name and their birth date.
Begin the RFA Process
If you think that a child in your family might come into foster care and you want to be considered for placement, begin the application process to become an approved Resource Family and make the transition as smooth and quick as possible.
Come to the child’s court hearing
You may not be allowed in the court room, but you can wait to speak to the attorney representing the child and request a Relative Information Form (called a JV-285) at the court. This form allows you to give the court information about the child, and to inform the court that you would like the child to live with you.
- If your requested placement is not assessed in a timely manner, you can request a WIC 361.3 hearing in court to move the process along.
- If the child is already placed somewhere else, you can petition the court for a WIC 388 hearing, which is a request to change the current placement of the child.
When a child is placed in your home, you will begin receiving a monthly stipend to cover the cost of care for that child. If you are not yet approved as a Resource Family but a child has been placed in your home, you will receive temporary funding for up to a year, or until you are approved. Learn more about Resource Family Funding by visiting the links below.
If you are not receiving funding or are receiving the wrong amount of funding, please call the Resource Family Helpline at 800-697-4444 or email FCHL@dcfs.lacounty.gov and eligibility workers will be able to look up your case and payment status.
Relative Support Services
If you are a relative caregiver or non-relative extended family member who could use some extra support, there are community organizations in your area that can help. These organizations can provide services to help you better meet the needs of the children in your care. Some of these services include:
- Support Groups
- Caregiver Mentoring
- Child Care Referrals
- Respite Care Referrals
- Tutoring Referrals
- Legal Assistance Referrals
- Food and Clothing Referrals
- Educational Opportunities
- Outdoor & Recreational activities & special events
- General Counseling
- Need Based Financial Assistance
- Help with DCFS questions
Find the Relative Support Service provider in your Service Planning Area (SPA) to call them directly, or call the Resource Family Helpline at (800) 697-4444.
Find your Service Planning Area
Relative Support Services Directory
Alliance of Relative Caregivers
Alliance of Relative Caregivers ARC offers a range of supportive services for relative caregivers including free groups led by peer support facilitators and help navigating schools and/or an IEP for a child with special needs. For questions please email Program Coordinator Sylvie de Toledo or call (818) 789-1177.
For grandparents who are caring for their children’s children, navigating the DCFS process and gaining access to resources can be particularly difficult.
One Generation’s Grandparents as Parents (GAP) program advocates for caregivers when they may become overwhelmed. GAP provides connection and support, training, and counseling, breaking the isolation that relative caregivers face when parents can no longer parent.
Call (818) 264-0880 or email GAP@onegeneration.org to attend an upcoming support group meeting.
Grandparents as Parents