All DCFS foster youth have the right to a warm, welcoming and safe home. If a home isn’t the right fit, there are options available to you. Whether you are experiencing homelessness, entering or re-entering foster care, or you are a Probation or DCFS youth, you are protected and entitled by law to have a roof over your head.
Former Foster Child Xiomara Torres is now a judge Xiomara Torres Mattson. Xiomara and her sister came into the foster care system at the age of 12. At that time children were being transported for their dependency court hearings at the Criminal Building in Los Angeles.
Even as a young lady, Xiomara exuded a spirit of strength and determination. She would talk about what she wanted to be when she grew up. She spoke about the abuse she suffered and she told her social workers on numerous occasions she wanted to be the one making the decisions in the courtroom so that what happened to her would not happen to other little girls.
Xiomara also had a younger sister who was still at home. She wanted to protect her little sister so she disclosed what had been happening to her when she was at home with her family. She never wavered and answered questions asked by attorneys, social workers and other individuals involved in her case over and over again.
Xiomara Torres was in the foster care system until she was 18 years old.
Many times she would see the choices that her teenage friends had made with regard to drug or alcohol use or getting pregnant. She had a maturity and wisdom far beyond her years. Xiomara was focused. She was determined to attain the goals she set for herself. When she was in the courtroom for her hearings she would speak up on her own behalf and read the court reports she was given. Xiomara went on to graduate from high school and from a four-year university and law school.
Today, Xiomara is in the position to help keep children safe.
*In order to protect the anonymity and privacy of our families, names have been changed and photos are randomized.
If, during a DCFS or Juvenile Dependency Court investigation, it is determined that it is necessary to place you in another home while your family resolves the issues that led to your removal, you may be placed with:
Your other parent, if they are separated or divorced
Relatives or a close family friend
With a foster family
In a short-term residential treatment program
DCFS will make every effort to place you in a home that best suits your needs. We try to ensure that all young people are placed in homes where they can continue to attend the same school, see their same doctors and maintain family ties. If you and your siblings all need to be removed from your home, DCFS will make efforts to place you together.
All foster parents and relative caregivers must go through the Resource Family Approval (RFA) process to ensure that they are able to safely and effectively look after the children in their care.
When are placed in out-of-home care, you are entitled to regular telephone contact with your parents as long as that contact is not detrimental to you. Your first phone call will be within 5 hours being removed from their home. Youth older than 10 years have the right to make at least two phone calls to parents in the presence of DCFS staff within one hour of being removed from your home. Then, if it is safe for you, in-person visits will be arranged according to your Family Visitation Plan.
After your case is heard in Juvenile Dependency Court, the court will determine how often, and under what circumstances, you are able to visit with your parents while they are working toward reunification. These visits may be supervised, depending on the specifics of your case.
If you are not getting the court-ordered visitation with your parents that you are entitled to receive, talk to your social worker or attorney.
Visits between siblings who are not placed together in foster care is required by law. Visits between children and their grandparents are also required by law if it is in the child’s best interests.
When a teen parent in foster care has custody of his or her non-dependent child, the court can only order visits between the teen parent, their parent(s) and appropriate family members. A dependent teen parent who has custody of their non-dependent child is the only person who has the right to make visitation decisions regarding the non-dependent child.
The Incarcerated Parents Program (IPP) facilitates visitation between women who are incarcerated at the Century Regional Detention Facility (CRDF) and their children in out-of-home placement. The program is open to incarcerated mothers with children between the ages of 0-21. Mothers must have a current open Family Reunification Plan with DCFS, and not have a “stay away” or restraining order in criminal or juvenile dependency court, in order to participate.
IPP helps ensure incarcerated parents complete any court-ordered programs, acts as a liaison between social workers and the incarcerated parent and helps improve outcomes for released parents through resource referrals and supportive services. IPP is available on a first come, first served basis.
Whenever possible, DCFS seeks to place children and youth with a family member or a non-related adult close to the child (called a “non related extended family member” or NREFM) to provide as much stability and familiarity for your child as possible. Be sure to tell DCFS about any relatives or friends who you believe are able to safely care for your child.
If no relative or friend is able, or if you require specialized assistance, you will be cared for by a county certified foster parent, also known as a Resource Family, or in a communal living setting, known as a Short Term Residential Treatment Program (STRTP).
Foster Families, also known as resource families, have completed a background check, home environment assessment, psycho-social assessment, and have received training in how to temporarily care for the children who are placed with them.
Foster parents know that they are not your parent, but are temporary caregivers responsible for your well-being while your parents are working to reunite with you.
California’s Continuum of Care Reform (CCR) recommends that foster children and youth remain in a family setting while they are separated from their parents whenever possible. However, for children who require intensive support and cannot be placed in a family-based setting, STRTPs provide short-term, high-quality, intensive therapeutic intervention services. STRTPs are not considered long-term placement options. All services are designed to stabilize, support and transition children and youth into a family setting when they are ready.
Housing for Youth 16 and Up
Transitional housing is available to foster youth between the ages of 16 and 24 that allows you to live in a supervised independent setting with or without an adult on site. These placements include apartments, condos, houses, college dorms, a host family’s home and more. The Youth Development Services Division (YDSD) has a series of Transitional Housing and Supervised Independent Living Programs (SLIPs) that can help in the shift from foster care to living on your own.