settings,”128 the state engaged in more than three years of collaboration with counties and other
stakeholders to create a Continuum of Care out-of-home care model premised upon utilizing
congregate care only for placements that are time-limited and focused on specific treatment
goals.129 In order to reduce group care, the state must first increase capacity in home-based family
care settings and appropriately support those placements with available services.130
Since 2015, California has engaged in continued legislative and regulatory changes,
attempting to implement the vision of Continuum of Care Reform (“CCR”). Assembly Bill No.
(“AB”) 403 was California’s first bill designed to implement the recommendations of the
Continuum of Care Reform efforts.131 Recognizing that utilizing and supporting kinship caregivers
will help implement the CCR goals of placing children in family-like settings, the California
Legislature, through AB 403, declared their intent “to maintain children’s safety, well-being, and
healthy development when they are removed from their own families by placing them, whenever
possible and appropriate, with relatives or someone familiar.”132 The Legislature went on to
declare “research demonstrates that being cared for in a family improves the outcomes for children
who have experienced abuse and neglect.”133 Also relevant to the issue at hand, the Legislature
recognized “[t]hat culturally relevant services and supports need to be made available to children,
youth, and their caregivers, regardless of the placement setting.”134
One piece of Continuum of Care Reform has been the shifting of licensed caregivers from
foster parents to resource families. As of January 2017, families can become approved to provide
care for youth in foster care through the Resource Family Approval (RFA) process.135 RFA allows
for temporary emergency placement of a foster youth with a relative, with legal prioritization of
placing children with relatives when they cannot remain with their parents.136 As a result, children
can be placed directly with kinship caregivers when removed from their parents, which decreases
multiple transitions for the child, increasing stability and reducing emotional and behavioral
difficulties that may result from multiple moves.
Recognizing the benefits of supporting kinship families caring for children removed from
their parents through the foster care system, California has recently taken greater steps to assure
financing policies are in line with these priorities. For the first time in California history, funding
is becoming commensurate for kinship care and non-relative foster care.137 Once a kinship family
is approved as a Resource Family (California’s term for an approved foster parent), they should
receive the same foster care rate as non-relative foster caregivers. In 2016, California approved a
new foster care funding rate structure that finally provided the same rates to kinship caregivers,
providing financial parity for foster caregivers across California.138 That parity was merely
128 CAL. DEP’T OF SOC. SERVS., CALIFORNIA’S CHILD WELFARE CONTINUUM OF CARE REFORM 5 (2015)
131 Assemb. B. 403, 2015-2016 Reg. Sess. (Cal. 2015).
132 Assemb. B 403, § 1(c).
133 Assemb. B 403 § 1 (c)( 4).
134 Assemb. B. 403 § 1 (c)( 6) (emphasis added).
135 See GREGORY ROSE, CAL. DEP’T OF SOC. SERV., ALL CNTY. LETTER NO. 16-10, at 2-3 (Feb. 17, 2016),
138 Assemb. B. 403 § 65 (amending Welfare and Institutions Code Section 11402 to provide AFDC-FC payments to
children placed in the approved home of a resource family, regardless of the child’s relation to the resource family).