About Becoming a Resource Family

Potential kinship care providers, such as relatives and non-related extended family members, may contact or be contacted by Child Welfare Services or Juvenile Probation at the time the child is separated from his or her parents and placed in out-of-home care. Relatives are encouraged to apply for emergency or non-emergency placement for a relative child. Individuals or families with a prior significant relationship with the child, but whom are not related, may also contact the agency to be considered for emergency placement of a child.

If you are a non-related extended family member, and are interested in caring for a child you are familiar with and  have a vested interest in, you can call the Our County. Our Kids. information line: 866-899-2649, or if you would like to start the approval process, click here to view the RFA Orientation Video and start your online application.

The process is not difficult. Resource family members are provided with clear information about the steps to becoming approved and receive pre-service training. All adults 18 years and older must undergo a criminal records check, including fingerprinting and care givers are asked to get a health check and TB test. They must complete CPR and First Aid certification as part of their pre-service training. A home inspection must occur as well as a caregiver screening assessment that includes home visits and interviews with a home study worker.

The process is not difficult. Resource family members are provided with clear information about the steps to becoming approved and receive pre-service training. All adults 18 years and older must undergo a criminal records check, including fingerprinting and care givers are asked to get a health check and TB test. They must complete CPR and First Aid certification as part of their pre-service training. A home inspection must occur as well as a caregiver screening assessment that includes home visits and interviews with a home study worker.

Santa Barbara County Resource Family Approval Unit conducts the assessment and approval process for all prospective Resource Families referred by Child Welfare Services or Juvenile Probation. Regulations issued by the California Department of Social Services are used to approve and monitor these families.

There may be a limited number of small fees for the process, including the cost of processing fingerprints, costs associated with the health exam as well as some safety devices such as smoke detector, locks for poisons and medications or barriers to pools or bodies of water on the property. Financial assistance is available through Santa Barbara Department of Social Services.


State regulations require that adequate space be provided for each child. Homes are typically approved to accept up to two children. Exceptions can be made in the case of siblings. The number of children that you might be allowed to care for will be based upon the size of your home and your own family size. Federal regulations limit the total number of children in a home to six, with no more than two children under two years of age. Special exemptions can sometimes be made for large sibling groups and relatives with special housing challenges.

A good parent is an adult who cares about the wellbeing of children, who can be consistent and who understands the special needs of children who have been neglected and abused. Parents who can be flexible and adapt well to unexpected events or behaviors in children. A person who is willing to learn new parenting skills to meet special needs. A parent who can understand and support a child’s bond to their birth family.

Yes. Child Welfare Workers and Juvenile Probation Officers will give as much information as possible so that Resource Parents are better able to understand the needs and experiences of the child. The Resource Parent is required to keep this information private.

No. After learning as much as possible about the child and hopefully taking time to meet the child, Resource Families need to decide whether or not they have the skills, commitment and experience to care for a particular child. The agency appreciates Resource Families who take time to carefully consider their decision, even if the answer is no. Our goal is to make a single successful and stable placement for the child.

No. The Resource Family home will be issued for a specific number and ages of children requested as long as the home meets the children’s needs. The Resource Family should discuss with the RFA staff what age and gender they can work with. Placements will be made within this age range and Resource Family parents have the right not to take a child if they feel the placement would not be successful.

Whenever possible, the agency wants you to meet and spend some time with the child before you make the decision to accept placement. In certain types of situations and emergencies, this may not always be possible.

Yes. A Child Welfare Worker or a Juvenile Probation Officer is assigned to oversee the care of each child or youth placed in your and you will meet with them a minimum of once monthly to talk about the child’s needs and adjustment. You can have more frequent contact as needed. The Child Welfare Worker or Juvenile Probation Officer will work with you to assess the child’s health, education, mental health and behavioral needs and to connect you and the child to services to help them.

There is no definite length of time. The goal of out-of-home care is to reunite children with their birth parents when a safe and suitable home life can be re-established. If reunification can occur, it will generally occur within a six to 18-month timeframe.

Relatives and a special class of non-relatives called Non-Related Extended Family Members (NREFM) may be approved for placement within hours or days on an emergency basis, contingent on successful completion of the RFA process. The process must be completed within 90 days of placement.

The placement of a child with a non-relative Resource Family is determined by the particular needs of the child, the abilities of the care givers and the agency’s need for placement of children. Many factors are considered when making placement, including religion, age, gender, ability to remain in school of origin, location of the home and other factors.

Visits are arranged by the assigned Child Welfare Worker or Juvenile Probation Officer in a manner that creates a safe environment, keeps the child’s attachment to their birth parent, and reassures the child of the parent’s continued connection. Visits are also arranged to help parents to build skills, under supervision to provide safe care for their children. Visits take place in settings such as a local church, the Child Welfare or Juvenile Probation office and eventually in the community and the family home, when sufficient progress is made by parents. Whenever possible and appropriate, Resource Families work under the direction of Child Welfare Services or Juvenile Probation, taking the lead in supporting a child’s visits with parents and biological family members.

Yes. Resource Families are encouraged to accept a child as a member of the family and trips and vacations are great experiences for them. These plans may need to consider the visitation requirements of the birth family and may need to be approved by the court if out of the state or country.

Yes. Reimbursement rates for care of the child are set and approved by the state. The amount of reimbursement provided depends upon the age and special needs of the child. The money received is for food, clothing and maintenance of the child, not as income for the Resource Family. There are special rates for children with more severe behavioral and medical needs.

Yes. Most children are eligible for Medi-Cal that covers medical and dental expenses. This care is accepted by county health clinics, some local doctors and hospitals. If you are a relative caring for a child whose parents reside in another county or state, special arrangements must be made to assure this health coverage.

If a child or youth does not have adequate clothing at the time of placement, arrangements are made to provide a clothing allowance. On an annual basis, a back-to-school clothing allowance is issued. If the child has an unusual need, such as pregnancy or a growth spurt, other clothing allowances may be issued.


Relative Caregiver Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. As with Resource Families, Kinship care homes must pass the minimum requirements for providing care for children. Caregivers must be able to adequately care and provide for the children placed with them. The home must be safe and free from health hazards. The child must have some type of emotional tie to the kinship caregivers. The kinship caregivers must be willing to work with the Department of Social Services when necessary and to follow the rules and regulations set forth by the social workers or probation officers involved.

  • Agree to a law enforcement background check and fingerprinting.
  • A background check is required for the applicant as well as any person in the household who is 18+ years old. An applicant’s or household members’ prior history with law enforcement or child protective services may require more extensive consideration. While the background check process can sometimes be lengthy, it is critical to ensure the safety of the child.
  • Complete Resource Family Approval Training Series. The training will also include CPR and First-Aid certification.
  • Meet with a home study worker to complete a Social Study assessment.
  • Complete a home environment check.

Passing the approval process does not give the relative the right to placement of the child. Our County. Our Kids. 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.

The Department of Social Services, the Department of Probation and community agencies are committed to assisting you in fulfilling your role as a caregiver, support includes:

  • Monthly reimbursement for the care of the child/ren.
  • Medical and Dental care coverage through Medi-Cal.
  • Office based and in-home therapeutic services for children.
  • Community based recreational programs for children, and peer support for Resource Families.

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 – Resource Family (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.

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.

  • Monthly visits with the Child Welfare Worker or Juvenile Probation Officer assigned to the child’s case.
  • Short-term child care or “respite” care. 
  • Support groups, mentoring, education, training, and referrals provided the Our County. Our Kids. Program.
  • Funding support for medical services, education, and extra-curricular activities provided by local non-profits, the Probation Department and the Department of Social Services.

Yes, Resource Families can work outside the home provided that adequate child care can be provided for the child.


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 the Department of Social Services?
  • 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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