Information for Relatives and NREFMs


When a child is detained by the county social services agency, the agency has certain legal obligations to identify and notify relatives (including siblings) of the child’s removal.  The county agency also has a legal obligation to assess those relatives and/or non-relative extended family members (NREFMs) for placement.  In addition to the county agency's legal obligations, the juvenile dependency court has the obligation to make certain inquiries and findings at the detention and disposition hearings related to the child's placement.

This section outlines the agency and court's duties and obligations with regard to a dependent child.  When these duties and obligations are not performed, certain rights and remedies are available to relatives and/or NREFMs to address the agency and/or court's failures.

If you are a relative or NREFM currently caring for a foster child, please visit our For Resource Families page for information about how to best advocate for the child in your care. Other resources for relative caregivers are available at Kinship Care CA.

If you are a relative caregiver who is caring for a child who doesn't qualify for foster care payments, you may be eligible for Approved Relative Care (ARC) funding.  For more information, please visit this webpage.

Legal Definitions

The County Placing Agency’s Role and Legal Obligations

The Court's Role at Detention and Disposition:  Inquire About Relatives and Make Findings on Agency's Due Diligence in Locating Them

At the detention hearing the court must ask the parent(s) of the child to provide contact information about maternal and paternal relatives so the social worker can contact them and initiate an assessment if they are willing to be considered for placement.  The social worker must include in the detention report the results of any assessment of a relative home conducted under §309(d).  The agency must also have a procedure for the relatives of a child who has been removed to identify themselves to the social worker and be provided with notice of dependency proceedings.

At the disposition hearing, the court must make findings as to whether the social services agency used due diligence to identify, locate and notify relatives and may order the agency to take additional steps to identify relatives if it finds that the agency has not used due diligence.
Welfare and Institutions Code §§ 309(e)(3), 319(f)(3), 361.3(a); California Rules of Court 5.637, 5.695(f)

Rights and Remedies Available to Relatives and NREFMs

Relative and/or NREFM Placement Considerations

Immediate Assistance/Support Available for Escalating Issues in Placements

The California Family Urgent Response System  is a free hotline for current or former foster youth and their caregivers to call and get immediate help for any issues (big or small) they may be having. The hotline is open 24 hours per day. When you call the FURS hotline, you will be connected with a trained counselor or peer who will listen to you. FURS is a safe and private space to talk. If more support is needed, a local team can come directly to where you are to help you work on the problem and create a plan to help stabilize your situation and keep everyone safe. The team will also help connect you to local services and future support. If you need assistance, CALL OR TEXT: 1-833-939-FURS (3877) or visit online at

FURS is a coordinated statewide, regional, and county-level system designed to provide collaborative and timely state-level phone-based response and county-level in-home, in-person mobile response during situations of instability, to preserve the relationship of the caregiver and the child or youth. For additional FURS program resources and background information, please click here.


Legal Disclaimer: Advokids provides educational information and resources to those who use our website, call our hotline, or submit requests for information via the website. Any information provided may not be construed as the giving of legal advice to any person about a particular legal matter and should not be relied upon as the basis for taking a particular action or refraining from taking a particular action in any legal matter. If you want or need legal advice about a particular legal matter, you should consult a lawyer.

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