Resource Family Approval Program (RFA)

Santa Barbara County implemented the Resource Family Approval (RFA) Program effective March 1, 2014. RFA is a unified process that replaces existing processes and increases approval standards by incorporating a comprehensive psycho-social evaluation of all families who want to foster, adopt or provide legal guardianship to a child. This means that anyone desiring to provide out-of-home care for a child who is under the supervision of the Child Welfare Services must complete the same training and approval process, including relatives and non-relative extended family members of the child.

What is a resource family?

Resource Family is the new term California applies to caregivers who provide out-of-home care for children in foster care. Resource families include individuals, couples and families. They may be related to the child, have a familiar or mentoring relationship with the child, or no previous relationship with the child. The term Resource Family is now used to describe all types of caregivers, rather than the various terms; Foster Parent, Adoptive Parent, Relative, or Non-Related Extended Family Member.

Resource Families play a critical role in the life of children in out of home care. When out-of-home placement is needed to keep the child safe, Child Welfare Services (CWS) makes diligent efforts to identify, evaluate and consider relatives, family friends and those closely tied to the family as the primary placement option. When relatives cannot be a placement option for the child, CWS makes efforts to actively recruit and support Resource Families that are able to keep them connected with their community and culture. Resource Families work together with CWS staff and the child's family to successfully return the child to their parents. The purpose of a resource Family is to provide a child with a feeling of safety, permanence, and well-being.

The need for resource families

Santa Barbara County has over 500 children in need of out-of-home care due to abuse or neglect.  There is an on-going need for finding and maintaining resource families who can support children and their families in their own communities. It is the goal of Child Welfare Services (CWS) to place a child in a home as quickly as possible. CWS believes that the best environment for a child is a family home environment, rather than emergency shelter or a group home. Our greatest challenge is to find resource families who will share their home with sibling groups, pre-teens and teenagers, and children with special medical, emotional, developmental and educational needs.

Deciding to become a Resource Family is an important decision and should be carefully considered. Resource Families are an extremely important part of the Child Welfare Services team in meeting the needs of youth in out-of-home care. In many cases the bond formed with these children will be long-lasting and your impact on them during this time is crucial to their development. Click to learn more about becoming a resource family.

More information:

Santa Barbara County RFA Implementation Plan

California Department of Social Services RFA Webpage

Visit our website dedicated to information, resources and support for resource parents and kinship caregivers: ourcountyourkids.org .