Hispanic child removed from parents and placed in foster care

Are Criminal Records a Barrier to Foster or Adoption?

You Need to Act Fast

When a child is removed from a home, by law, local government representatives are required to do everything to identify a potential relative that is eligible to care for the child, within 24 hours. So, there is a tight window of time with which to act. 

The first thing you should do is call Knotts Family Agency. You should contact the foster family agency immediately to initiate the application for Resource Family Approval.

Here are some additional factors to keep in mind.

Home Environment Assessment- Home Inspection

The county will conduct an initial inspection to determine whether your home is safe. Of course, you need to make sure your house is presentable for the home environment assessment (home inspection). 

If necessary, a Knotts Family Agency Parent Support Specialist will be available to assist you in getting your home as prepared as possible (no need to go out shopping), but the home should be orderly and presentable.

Background Check

The county will run an initial background check into the county’s case management system to see if you or someone in your household has had previous allegations. Because the LiveScan results would not be available, they are likely to rely primarily on the findings of the CLETS, CSWs 

Arrests, Criminal Record

Be aware that the county reserves the right to determine if a person can or cannot be cleared as a resource family. The approval of an applicant as a resource family by any foster family agency, does not automatically entitle that caregiver to placement of a child in his or her home. 

However, because the county would have already completed the review of the applicant background search conducted through California Law Enforcement Tracking System (CLETS), Child Abuse Central Index (CACI), and Child Welfare Services/Case Management System (CWS/CMS), it is likely to give county clearance for placement of child(ren).

A prospective caregiver’s home can meet the RFA standards, but the county social services agency may conclude that placing the specific child(ren) in the home may still not be in the best interest of the child(ren).

Contact Knotts Family Agency to learn more about the Approved Relative Caregiver and the Relative Emergency Placement programs.

If a child in your family or extended family is currently living in foster care and you would like for them to be placed with you, you may request a placement through the following process. 

Inform the social worker

It is important that the county becomes aware that you are interested in caring for the child in your family. The law requires county agencies to give first priority to relatives and extended family members.

In some cases, there may be more than one social worker assigned to the child’s case.

Make sure to inform each one as they do not always share information. If you do not know who the social worker is call the county and let them know that you’re relatively childhood been removed from their home and asked to contact their social worker you will need the child’s father’s name and her birth date 

Initiate the RFA process 

Apply for Resource Family Approval immediately if you think that a child in your family might come into foster care and you want to be considered for placement.

It is strongly recommended that you initiate the resource from the approval process to become a resource parent so that the transition may be as smooth and quick as possible 

Attend the court hearing

It is possible that you will not be allowed in the courtroom, but you can wait to speak to the attorney representing the child and request a Relative Information Form called JV-285 at the court. This form allows you to give the court information about the child and to inform the court that you would like the child to live with you. 

If your requested placement is not assessed or considered in a timely manner, you can request a WIC 361.3 hearing in court to move the process along. If the child is already placed somewhere as you can petition the court for WIC 388 hearing, which is a request to change the current placement of the child.

Financial Consideration

When a child is placed in your home you will begin receiving a monthly stipend to cover the cost of care for that child . If you’re not yet approved as a resource family but the child has already been placed in your home you will receive temporary funding for up to a year, or until you are approved. 

Additional Policies

Placement of a child or non-minor dependent may be made prior to the Resource Family Approval, at any time during the child’s case, including pre or post disposition, if either of the following situations apply:

  1. The placement is made with a relative or NREFM on an emergency basis.
  2. There is a compelling reason for the placement based on the needs of the child or non-minor dependent. A compelling reason may include, but is not limited to, the following:
    1. The unique needs of the child or Non-minor Dependent, or
    2. The best interest of the child or NMD to maintain his or her family or family-like connections with an applicant.

Placement of a child or NMD does not ensure approval as a Resource Family. However, the family evaluation must consider the nature of the relationship between the relative or NREFM and the child.

The RFA process is time-sensitive and requires completion of a comprehensive background check and home environment assessment within ten (10) calendar days following the criminal records check conducted through California Law Enforcement Tracking System (CLETS), or five (5) business days after a child or NMD is placed with a relative or NREFM, whichever is sooner. All components of the RFA must be completed within ninety (90) days.

The regulations set forth a number of factors the agency and the court must consider in deciding to place the child with a relative.  “In determining whether placement with a relative is appropriate, the county social worker and court shall consider, but shall not be limited to, consideration of all the following factors:

  1. The best interest of the child, including special physical, psychological, educational, medical, or emotional needs.
  2. The wishes of the parent, the relative and the child, if appropriate.
  3. The provisions of Part 6 (commencing with Section 7950) of Division 12 of the Family Code regarding relative placement.
  4. Placement of siblings and half-siblings in the same home, if that placement is found to be in the best interest of each of the children as provided in Section 16002.
  5. The good moral character of the relative and any other adult living in the home, including whether any individual residing in the home has a prior history of violent criminal acts or has been responsible for acts of child abuse or neglect.
  6. The nature and duration of the relationship between the child and the relative, and the relative’s desire to care for the child.
  7. The ability of the relative to do the following:
    1. Provide a safe, secure, and stable environment for the child
    2. Exercise proper and effective care and control of the child
    3. Provide a home and the necessities of life for the child.
    4. Protect the child from his or her parents.
    5. Facilitate court-ordered reunification efforts with the parents
    6. Facilitate visitation with the child’s other relatives.
    7. Facilitate implementation of all elements of the case plan.
    8. Provide legal permanence for the child if reunification fails
    9. However, any finding made as to (G) or (H) shall not be the sole basis for precluding preferential placement with a relative.
    10. Arrange for appropriate and safe childcare, as necessary
  8. The safety of the relative’s home which must first be approved per Welfare & Institutions Code § 309 (d).(i.e. an assessment which includes the ability of the relative to meet the child’s needs, a home inspection, and a criminal record check, and the relative home shall meet the same standards and regulations set forth for the licensing a of foster family homes.)”

About Arrests Record

An arrest record must not be used to deny or rescind an approval unless the county investigates the incident and secures evidence to establish that the conduct of the person may pose a risk to the health and safety of any person who is or may become a person served. 

If however, a prospective caregiver has been arrested for any of the crimes listed below, a child cannot be placed until there is an investigation and the county social services agency and court determine that the placement is in the best interest of the child, after having considered the investigation results.

  • Any crime listed in Penal Code 290: sex offender registry
  • Penal Code 245: assault with a deadly weapon
  • Penal Code 273ab: willful injury to a child 8 years of age or younger
  • Penal Code 273.5: corporal injury to spouse
  • Penal Code 273a(b): misdemeanor willful injury to a child
  • Penal Code 273a, paragraph 2 (prior to 1994)
  • Any crime listed in HS §1522(g) – see Category 1 (Non-exemptible_Exempt Criminal Offenses)

The Regional Administrator (RA) or designee is allowed to approve an emergency placement if the prospective caregiver, any other adult residing in the home, and/or any persons having significant contact with the child, has a conviction that allows for an exemption. Please refer to the chart for a list of non-exemptible convictions, standard exemptions, and simplified exemptions (see attachment).

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