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Become a Relative Caregiver

What is Kinship care?

In the United States more than 6 million children live in homes where the head of the household is a grandparent or other relative. Current research shows that children and youth who live with kin often benefit because they are more likely to:

  • Remain with their siblings
  • Report being happy
  • Stabilize in their own school
  • Maintain family cultural practices

California law requires that when a child is removed from their home, relatives are searched for and if found, contacted and informed about the child’s removal. This allows relatives the option of helping the child during this difficult time.

“Kinship Care” refers to a temporary or permanent arrangement in which a relative or any non-relative adult, who has a long-standing relationship or bond with the child and/or family, has taken over the full-time, substitute care of a child whose parents are unable or unwilling to do so.  Kinship caregivers may be grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, or family friends of the children in their care.

What is the difference between Resource Families and Relative Caregivers?

The role of Resource Families and Relative Caregivers are very similar.  Both sets of caregivers provide a supportive and stable family for children who cannot live with their birth parents. In most cases, Resource Families and Relative Caregivers work with Child Welfare Services and the Juvenile Court staff to reunite the child with birth parents or achieve the best possible permanency option for the child.

Resource Families are licensed to provide care for children not related to them, whereas relatives go through an approval process which does not guarantee placement of the child into the home.  Our Child Welfare Services places children in an approved relative home or licensed foster home based on the best interest of the child and the caregiver’s ability to meet the child’s needs.

If you are a relative or are interested in providing care to a child or youth that you are personally committed to, please call: 866-899-2649

What support is available to Resource Families?

Resource Families are offered a wide range of financial, emotional, and practical support. See our Resource pages. All licensed Resource Families are provided a monthly reimbursement to enable them to meet the child’s needs (click here for the most current Resource Family care rate information). Resource Families who take in children with special needs are often reimbursed at a higher rate. 

More questions?  Go to our FAQ page here.

Resource Families

Resource Family is a temporary family for children whose families are having problems and the child cannot safely remain in the home.  Resource Families provide a safe and nurturing environment for the child and work as a team with to achieve the best possible permanency outcome for that child.

If you are a relative or someone who is very familiar with a child who has been removed from their home and want to learn more about how to become involved, contact us!

Relative Caregiver

Relative (or Kinship) Caregiver means an adult who is related to the child by blood, adoption, or affinity within the fifth degree of kinship, including step-parents, step-siblings, and all relatives whose status is preceded by the words “great,””great-great,” or “grand,” or the spouse of any of these persons, even if the marriage was terminated by death or dissolution. CA Welfare & Institutions Code §319 (f)(2).

This term includes a parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, great-grandparent, great-aunt or great uncle (grandparents’ sibling), first cousin, great-great grandparent, great-great-aunt or great great uncle (great-grandparents’ sibling), first cousin once removed (parent’s first cousin), and great-great-great-grandparent; a step-parent or step-sibling; and the spouse or domestic partner of any of the people described above, even if the marriage or partnership was terminated by death or dissolution. Cal. Rules of Court 502(34).

If you are a relative or someone who is very familiar with a child who has been removed from their home and want to learn more about how to become involved, contact us!

Non-Relative Caregiver

A “non-relative extended family member” (NREFM) is defined as any adult caregiver who has an established familial or mentoring relationship with the child or relative of the child. The Depatment of Social Services verifies the existence of a relationship through interviews with the parent and child or with one or more third parties. The parties may include relatives of the child, teachers, medical professionals, clergy, neighbors, and family friends.

Regardless of the type of kinship care arrangement, the kinship caregivers’ voluntary commitment to devote their lives to the children in their care is a courageous, life-changing decision.

If you are a relative or someone who is very familiar with a child who has been removed from their home and want to learn more about how to become involved, contact us!

Relative Caregiver Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a “screening process”?

Yes, a kinship home must complete the Resource Family Approval process. It’s important for you to be aware that passing the approval process does not give the relative the right to placement of the child. The Department of Social Services has the discretion to place in an approved home based on the best interest of the child and their needs and services.

Once you have been approved, the child’s social worker will determine whether the child will be placed in your home.

What support can I expect if I become a kinship caregiver?

Santa Barbara Department of Social Services and community agencies are committed to assisting you in fulfilling your role as a caregiver.

Financial Assistance
If eligible, you will receive monthly financial assistance to help pay for basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing. You may be eligible for one of two types of assistance: Aid to Families with Dependent Children – Foster Care (AFDC-FC); or CalWORKs – “Non-Needy Relative Aid.” If you are not eligible for AFDC-FC, your social worker will provide information about applying for CalWORKs. Financial assistance begins after all Relative Approval requirements are met.

Health Care Assistance
Each child will be enrolled in the Medi- Cal program. Medi-Cal provides low-cost health insurance that covers regular doctor visits, hospitalization, immunizations, and vision and dental care.

Other support services designed to assist you as a caregiver include:
• Monthly visits with the child’s social worker
• Short-term child care or “respite” care for up to 12 hours per month
• Support groups, mentoring, education, training, and referrals provided by the Department of Social Services
• Funding support for medical services, education, and extra-curricular activities provided by the Department of Social Services and our community partners

I work outside the home. Can I have a full-time job and become a kinship caregiver?

Yes, relative caregivers can work outside the home provided that adequate child care can be provided for the child.

Is it right for my family?

When considering how you may be able to help a child during this critical time, it is important to understand the child’s needs and assess your family’s ability to meet them. Questions that you may ask yourselves include:

• What is my relationship to and with the child?
• Do I understand the circumstances surrounding the child’s removal from his or her parents?
• How do I feel about the circumstances?
• Will I be able to set boundaries with the parents?
• Will I support the child’s return to his/her parents when it is deemed safe by Foster VC Kids?
• Will I be able to offer the child a permanent home through guardianship or adoption if the child is not able to return to his/her parents?
• Can I commit to the well-being of the child?
• Will I need financial assistance to care for the child?

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