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
- 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.
Krista Hopper-Pasillas, MSW