May is National Foster Care Month

May 3, 2018

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to acknowledge the resource parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent connections, and attain safety and well-being.  It is also a time to focus on ways to create a bright future for the more than 430,000 children and youth in foster care nationwide.   Marin County currently has 85 children in out-of-home care, also known as foster care, and nearly 35% of them are placed in homes outside of Marin.  We need more homes in Marin so we can bring these youth back to our community.   If you would like to learn more about fostering opportunities, please join us at an Orientation.  The monthly Orientations are facilitated by a social worker and a resource parent who will discuss the application process, the training and support available.

Another way to support the local foster community is to participate in the Marin Foster Care Association’s 4th Annual Walk on Sunday, May 20th.  MFCA's annual Walkathon provides crucial funding for our educational programs, tutoring and enrichment, clothing, supplies, advocacy and support for foster children and the loving families that open their hearts and homes to Marin children.  The Walkathon is a kid, stroller, wheelchair, and dog-friendly 1-mile loop on beautiful Shoreline Trail in San Rafael. Registration begins at 2:00pm at 103 Shoreline Parkway in San Rafael (between BMW and Home Depot). There's lots of fun for everyone, so please come out and support foster kids in Marin! Register or donate here:

Marin Children and Family Services appreciates the service and dedication of our resource families.  We have 4 families that have been providing foster care for over 20 years, and some that have just begun their journeys.   We thank all members of the foster community for their support of Marin County youth.


Level Of Care Presentation

In case you missed it, please click here to view the Level of Care presentation held by Krista Hopper-Pasillas, Marin County RFA Supervisor, on April 26, 2018.

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New Info on Respite Care

by Krista Hopper-Pasillas, MSW

The Resource Family Approval program has brought with it many changes, some of which provide great benefits to Resource Families and seek to remove barriers for them. One of these changes involves the guidelines governing the type of care and supervision a Resource Family may rely on for support, or what is typically referred to as respite care.

The Resource Family Approval Written Directives, Version 5, actually differentiates between three types of support; Occasional Short-Term Babysitters, Alternative Caregivers, and Respite Care Providers.

Occasional Short-Term Babysitters

  • Can provide care for up to 24 hours
  • Can be under 18 if mature enough to handle the care of the child
  • Can provide care in their home or the Resource Family Home
  • Does not require a background check
    • Prudent Parent Standard Applies

Alternative Caregivers

  • Can provide care for more than 24 hours (no outer limit is specified)
  • Must be over 18
  • Can provide care in their home or in the Resource Family Home
    • Prudent Parent Standard Applies
  • Requires a Criminal Records Clearance by CFS

Respite Care Providers

  • Can provide care for up to 72 hours
    • Can be extended up to 14 days in any one month with CFS approval, if necessary to preserve the placement
  • Are licensed foster parents, approved relatives, or approved Resource Families
  • Provide care in their own home

Some Things to Consider
Allowing Resource Parents the ability to apply the Prudent Parenting Standard when selecting an Occasional Short-Term Babysitter or when determining whether an Alternative Caregiver’s home is appropriate increases flexibility and removes red tape for caregivers in leveraging available supports. Caregivers should consider the best interests of a child when making these determinations. In addition, because there is no CFS home inspection in these situations, caregivers should take steps to ensure the home is absent of hazards that endanger the health and safety of a child.

The removal of the limit on the amount of time a child can spend with an Alternative Caregiver is another step that was taken to make it easier for a caregiver to leverage their support system in meeting the needs of a child.  It is best practice for Resource Parents to identify a few people in their lives who may fill this role in the future, and proactively have them obtain a clearance with CFS. CFS cannot guarantee that last minute requests will be processed in time to accommodate a need, so get Grandma, Auntie or Neighbor cleared today!

Finally, these changes technically only apply to Resource Family Homes, as they are stated in the RFA Written Directives and not in the regulations governing licensed foster homes. At Marin CFS, we like to operate with a little common sense, and are enacting some changes during the RFA conversion process. If your home was certified through an FFA and has not yet converted to a Resource Family Home, your agency may choose to apply these changes differently. In fact, FFAs do have the ability to enact their own internal policies and procedures, so please be sure to check with your agency social worker about their requirements. However, you may use this information to advocate for common-sense guidelines that increase your ability to leverage your support system!


Changes on Funding

Resource Family Approval has been officially rolled out across the state for a little over a year, and what a year it has been! While beneficial in so many ways, the implementation of RFA has had some unintended consequences. For example, federal funding for foster care is not available until a family completes the full approval process. This can be challenging for those relatives who take placement of a child on an emergency basis. In Marin County, we have been committed to funding the majority of placements that occurred on an emergency basis. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said across the state. Follow the link below to read about some challenges that have occurred in other parts of the state, and what has been proposed to the legislature to address those concerns.

CA: California bills target lengthy foster-parent approval process
Chronicle of Social Change - March 07, 2018
As the state implements broad changes to its child-welfare system through the Continuum of Care Reform (CCR), one of the biggest challenges has been moving foster parents and relative caregivers through a new approval process.


Krista Hopper-Pasillas, MSW

Marin County - Children and Family Services