Resource Family Approval (RFA)


The Resource Family Approval (“RFA”) program is a statewide foster caregiver approval process for all caregivers (related and non-related).  The RFA program has a single approval standard that replaces the previous multiple processes for licensing foster family homes, approving relatives and non-relative extended family members (“NREFMs”) as foster care providers, and approving families for legal guardianship or adoption. Tribally approved homes are not required to adhere to the RFA standards. The RFA program was implemented statewide in January 2017.

RFA creates a framework for all families, including relative and NREFM caregivers, called "resource families" to receive the same information, training and opportunities for support. A resource family completes one approval process, and once approved, may choose to provide care on a short- or long-term basis. Once caregivers are approved resource families, they will not have to undergo any additional approval or licensure if they choose to adopt or be appointed a guardian for a child in foster care. Approval of a resource family, however, does not guarantee placement of a child with that resource family. The child’s social worker will continue to make placement decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has authority to temporarily administer the RFA Program through “Written Directives.” The CDSS has issued Written Directives and forms for implementing the RFA Program to ensure consistent standards among all counties and approving agencies.  The latest version of the Written Directives can be found on the CDSS RFA Program Website (scroll down to "Written Directives"). CDSS has been updating the Written Directives every few months, so be sure you review the most current version.

Welfare and Institutions Code section 16519.5

How You Can Request Placement of a Dependent Child

Requesting Placement Prior to Resource Family Approval

The Resource Family Approval Application Process

There are a number of requirements you must meet to become a resource family.  The RFA assessment is supposed to be completed within ninety (90) days.  However, the majority of county agencies are currently taking much longer to assess RFA applicants.  In some counties, such as Los Angeles, RFA applicants are reporting having to wait approximately nine months for a decision from the county. If you are having issues with your application, contact:

  • The Resource Family Approval Program Unit at their CCR Branch Line (916) 651-1101; or
  • The California Department of Social Services via email at [email protected]

Also, a number of counties (including, but not limited to, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Francisco) now have an online version of the RFA application.  Please check your county's RFA webpage to see if there is an online application available.


The Alliance for Children's Rights has created a comprehensive resource guide to the Resource Family Approval process. You will find the Alliance for Children's Rights RFA Toolkit here (updated 1/2019).


RFA Checklist for Applicants

This checklist is here so you can familiarize yourself with all of the components necessary to complete RFA.  Items are not listed in any particular order.  We hope this checklist will help you keep track of all the information that you will need to provide to your RFA social worker.  Please visit the CDSS RFA forms website for the most up to date forms info.

  • RFA Application Form (RFA 01A)
  • RFA Application Form – Confidential (RFA 01C). Note: use this form if there is a specific child identified prior to approval from whom you are seeking placement.
  • Resource Family Criminal Records Statement (RFA 01B) and, if applicable, an Out-of-State Child Abuse Neglect Report Request (Form LIC 198B)
  • Proof of identity (e.g. driver’s license, California State ID, etc.) Note: immigration status is not a reason for the county to deny placement of a child with a relative.  Other forms of ID will be accepted.
  • Consent for DCFS to obtain DMV reports for you and for any other adults residing or regularly in your home that may frequently transport children in your care
  • Consent to release all requested evaluative reports and records (includes physical and mental health ones)
  • Health Questionnaire (RFA 07), or a health screening by a licensed health professional not older than one year before the RFA application date
  • DCFS-approved caregiver orientation (likely to be conducted in your home)
  • CPR/First Aid training
  • 12 hours of DCFS-approved caregiver training (does not include orientation or CPR/First Aid training).  Note: some counties may have additional requirements
  • Verification of your employment (if employed)
  • Verification of current income and disclosure of expenses
  • Documents verifying ownership or rental of your home
  • Documentation of any prior history and/or present status you may have as an approved relative caregiver
  • Names and contact information for two (2) people who can attest to your character and your ability to safely care for the youth.  If this info is not available, applicant must document reasons.
  • Allow a home health and safety assessment (to determine whether there are home conditions that affect the health, safety and well-being of a child)
  • Participate in a family evaluation (includes comprehensive inquiry into applicant's personal history, family history and family dynamics)

The RFA Assessment Components

The County’s Written Assessment and Decision

Once the RFA application is reviewed and assessed, the county must complete a written report of the comprehensive assessment of the resource family that includes a determination that the family possesses the following characteristics:

An understanding of the safety, permanency, and well-being needs of children and nonminor dependents (“NMDs”) who have been victims of child abuse and neglect, a capacity and willingness to meet those needs, and the willingness to make use of support resources offered by the agency, have a support structure in place, or both.

  • An understanding of children and NMD’s needs and development, effective parenting skills, and a capacity to act as a reasonable and prudent parent in day-to-day decision making.
  • An understanding of the resource family role and the capacity to work cooperatively with the approving agency and other services providers in implementing the case plan.
  • The financial ability within the household to ensure the stability and financial security of the family.
  • The ability and willingness to maintain the least restrictive and most family like environment.

California Department of Social Services All County Letter No. 16-10 (2016)


Once You are Resource Family Approved

Once you are an approved resource family, please visit our Dependency Court Process and For Resource Families webpages for information and resources.  Even though you have been RFA approved, that does not guarantee placement of a child in your home.

Welfare and Institutions Code section 16519.5(c)(6)


If You are Denied Resource Family Approval

If you are denied resource family approval or you are decertified (i.e. delicensed), you are entitled to be served a Notice of Action that states the reasons why you were denied or decertified and any statutory authority for the decision.  The Notice of Action will also detail your rights to file a written appeal contesting the action (in the form of a state hearing).  See CDSS RFA Written Directives Version 8, Sections 12-05 and 06 (effective 11-1-22)

County is Required to use "Best Efforts" to Assist an Applicant in Obtaining/Maintaining RFA Approval

If you believe your RFA may not be approved or may be rescinded, you may consider sending a letter to the county RFA worker and supervisor to see if anything can be done to overcome the reasons you may be denied or lose your licensing (for example: submit additional documentation, attend classes or training, etc).  The county is required to use "best efforts" to address any concerns with an applicant or a Resource Family prior to or in lieu of issuing a Notice of Action, Accusation, or Statement of Issues in order to assist an applicant or Resource Family in obtaining or maintaining approval.  You can attach a copy of CDSS RFA Written Directives Version 8.0, Section 12-03 (effective 11-1-22) to your letter to the county RFA worker(s).


Appealing a Denial or Recision

If you are planning to apply for a state hearing, pay attention to the timeframe to appeal.  In certain instances, you only have 25 calendar days to request a state hearing.  Please visit our State Hearing webpage for more information.


Reapplying for Resource Family Approval after Withdrawal, Denial, and Rescission

If you withdrew your application, you may submit a new application, or resubmit your previous application, within one year of the date of withdrawal. See Sections 3-01(a)(107), 5-03B(e)(4) of the CDSS RFA Written Directives Version 8 (effective 11-1-22).

If your application for RFA is denied, you are required to wait one year before reapplying. The county must stop reviewing any application submitted if it learns of a prior denial or of a recession or revocation. However, if the reasons for your prior application’s denial (or previous license’s revocation or rescission) no longer exist or have been corrected, the county has discretion to continue or to resume reviewing that application before the end of one or two year waiting period. See Section 5-03B(m) of the CDSS RFA Written Directives Version 8 (effective 11-1-22).

If your RFA license (or criminal exemption) was revoked or otherwise rescinded, you are required to wait two years before reapplying unless you have been convicted of a crime for which no exemption may be granted. See Sections 3-01(a)(73), 6-03(B)(p) of the CDSS RFA Written Directives Version 8 (effective 11-1-22).


Additional Resources

For detailed information and instructions to staff on the components and requirements of the approval protocol scroll down to "Written Directives" on the Resource Family Approval Program webpage on the California Department of Social Services website.

The Alliance for Children's Rights has created a comprehensive resource guide to the Resource Family Approval process. You will find the Alliance for Children's Rights RFA Toolkit here (updated 1/2019).

Also see Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16519.5

Department of Social Services All County Letter No. 16-10

Department of Social Services All County Letter No. 16-58

State of California Department of Social Services RFA Program Webpage

RFA Directories by County

If you need contact information for the RFA office for an in county or out of county approval, please consult the following directories (updated as of 5/2022):

RFA County Point of Contact Directory for In County Approvals

RFA County Point of Contact Directory for Out of County RFA Approvals


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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