E. Approval of Relatives as Resource Families
Recently, in California, based on the Continuum of Care Reform, there have been
significant changes to the way both kinship foster homes and non-relative foster homes are
approved to be foster placements. These changes became effective in January 2017 through the
Resource Family Approval (RFA) program.175 Thoughtful consideration of best practices,
specifically for kinship caregivers must be considered when implementing RFA changes.
The training component of the RFA program must consider the unique position of kinship
caregivers. For example, kinship care providers often have children placed in their home prior to
full RFA approval, and without having completed the training requirements, due to the emergency
nature of the placement.176 While it may be reasonable to expect a non-related caregiver to show
a commitment to being a foster parent by having them come to a specified location to participate
in trainings to achieve RFA approval, kinship caregivers would be most supported by receiving
recognition that they have already committed to the caregiving relationship. Instead,
accommodations should be made to bring the training to the caregiver in their home or, at a
minimum, to assure that childcare is provided during foster parent trainings.
Additionally, as currently drafted, the RFA written directive from the California
Department of Social Services (effective February 2018) stipulates that Pre-Approval Training
address twenty-one different topics related to parenting a foster youth including an introduction to
laws regarding foster youth and roles of Resource Families.177 However, none of these topics are
specifically tailored to the unique needs of kinship caregivers. For this training to be most
beneficial for kinship caregivers, specific training should be conducted for kinship caregivers that
addresses management of family dynamics, challenges of parenting a relative’s child, and other
matters unique to kinship caregivers. The trainings should also include important information that
is applicable to all foster parents, such as education about the developmental impact of childhood
trauma, effective behavioral management strategies, and available mental health and other
community resources to support kinship caregivers and the children placed in their homes.
Additionally, RFA requires eight hours of annual training for each member of a Resource
Family.178 This annual training should also be modified to address the unique needs of kinship
In collaboration with the Resource Family Approval program, California instituted the
Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI), with the aim of better recruiting, supporting, and retaining
quality foster caregivers.179 Through the QPI, foster caregivers can access online and in person
training resources.180 Unfortunately, none of these resources are specially tailored to kinship
Kinship parenting skills courses or parenting groups that are offered, but not mandated,
could specifically address the unique aspects of parenting one’s relative as a non-biological parent.
Parenting skills groups for kinship caregivers could focus on how to adjust to changing roles and
175 Gregory Rose, All County Letter No. 16-10 (Feb. 17, 2016) available at
176 CAL. DEP’T OF SOC. SERVS., RESOURCE FAMILY APPROVAL WRITTEN DIRECTIVES §4-08 (2018) available at
177Id. at § 6-06.
178 Id. at § 8-01.
179What is QPI?, QUALITY PARENTING INITIATIVE CAL., http://www.qpicalifornia.org/pages/qpicaresource.shtml (last
visited Feb. 16, 2018).