Q: I am a relative caregiver of two siblings in foster care. There seem to be a lot of new changes in place this year that may impact us. What do I need to know about the Resource Family Approval process? Where can I go for information about this?
A: Yes, there are many changes taking effect this year, as part of California’s Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). Resource Family Approval (RFA), which took effect January 1, 2017 creates one uniform approval process for all caregivers in the foster care system, relative and non-relative. RFA applies to all new caregivers, and those who have already been approved and are currently caring for a foster child must be reapproved by December 31, 2019.
The Alliance for Children’s Rights, the Step Up Coalition and a wide range of state and local partners developed a toolkit to help walk caregivers through the newly implemented RFA process. It includes sample forms and other resources to guide you through the approval process, and a narrative explaining RFA step by step. You can download the toolkit at: http://kids-alliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/StepUp_RFAToolkit_V1_Feb2017_print_download.pdf
While the toolkit is intended to provide caregivers access to easy-to-understand information, it is not meant to be comprehensive. Each county in California may have its own supplemental forms and requirements, and so you should also consult with your social worker and local advocacy organizations for additional guidance.
The California Department of Social Services has also released All County Letter (ACL) 17-16, which provides county child welfare, probation departments and other interested stakeholders with information on the conversion process of all currently licensed foster family homes, approved relatives and Non-Relative Extended Family Members for implementation of RFA.
The ACL provides instructions on which aspects of RFA are to be completed for existing caregivers and what to include in the new Resource Family file, as well as a Frequently Asked Questions document.