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.
3“The first time I ever made fried chicken, the outside was so delicious. The inside was raw. It was my first time ever cooking and using those ‘independent skills’. Being the oldest, it was always about taking care of my siblings – this was about me. It was learning: these are the things I like, these are the things I don’t like. We’re given 2-3 gift cards to Walmart or Target to get set up our rooms in transitional housing. You don’t have things like blanket covers and towels so you meet with your social worker, go over the rules and then they take you shopping. You look to them to guidance. I got to pick my own room stuff – I got the cover I wanted.”
With 5 younger siblings to look out for, Isabella relied on her social workers to look out for her.
“My social workers were always great. Knowing I’m the oldest, telling me to take care of myself first. Always being mindful, maybe you want to bring your sisters to this or that; let them be involved in my life wherever possible. The day we got taken away, our social worker did a great job of keeping us together.”
It was her social workers that introduced Isabella to the wealth of services available to her, including the Business Development Internship that set her up with a paid internship, and ultimately, a job she’s enjoyed for 4 years now helping those in the same position she was.
“The internship is a great internship for youth – I just want it to get spread out more so more youth to be aware of it. it’s a great opportunity, I never thought I could work for the County. For social workers, understanding youth and taking time to understand and mentor them, you never know what may be going on at home. Believing in kids is what’s going to help them move forward and believe in themselves.”
*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.