Foster Care FAQ                                                         

  • Foster Care & Adoption
    Answers to common questions about foster care and adoption.
  • What geographic area do you serve for foster care and fost-adopt?


    We serve all of Los Angeles County.

  • Do I need special training?


    Yes, a 2 and a 1/2-hour orientation and 21 hours of resource parent pre-certification training are required. The training is provided by our agency. You will also need to become CPR and First Aid certified and maintain certification. Pre-certification training sessions are provided alternately on consecutive Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and on consecutive Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. You must also obtain 8 hours of continuing education annually to remain certified. The full schedule of trainings is included in our calendar.

  • How long does it take to become certified as a foster/fost-adopt parent?

    After you complete your training, it usually takes about three to four months to become certified and ready for placement. However, it can take longer. This largely depends on how quickly you submit your paperwork, have your criminal clearances completed and are available for the home study interviews.

  • How long will it take to have a child placed in my home?

    Once you are an approved resource parent, a child can be placed in your home on a foster care basis immediately. The characteristics of the child you would like to have in your home plays a large part in how quickly a child will be placed with you. The more open you are to older children, sibling groups and different ethnicities, the faster you can be matched with a child.

  • Can a child in foster care be adopted?



    When reunification with birth family is not possible, permanence for children in foster care is sought through adoption. The first priority for adoption is given to the resource parents, with whom the child lives. In Los Angeles County, all families are approved to both foster and adopt so that if a child moves towards the plan of adoption, it can happen quickly and smoothly.

  • With the fost-adopt process, how long will it take for the adoption to be finalized?

    There are many factors involved in a case moving though the fost-adopt process. Once parental rights have been terminated, an adoption may be finalized within 4-6 months; however, each case is unique and the final decisions are made by the Children’s Dependency Court. Please note, a child may be placed with you on a foster care basis for as long as one to two years before parental rights are terminated. Much depends on how far along the case is in the legal process when a child is placed with you.

  • What is a Home Study?

    A home study is required for all resource families. It is a psycho-social assessment of you and your family that is based on individual and joint (if you are a couple) interviews, participation in training, questionnaires that you have completed and all the documentation you are required to submit.  A thorough home study should consist of the following components: gathering information about you and your family, an evaluation of your ability to be an adoptive parent/family, and education and preparation for foster care and adoption. Some of the required documentation includes marriage certificates, divorce documents, military discharge and child support information. Applicants will have to give permission to have criminal and child abuse clearances and will have to provide the Social Worker with personal references. Applicants will also have to complete a physical exam and have a TB screening.

  • What does it cost to foster /adopt?

    The required orientation and pre-certification training is offered at no cost, but you will need to purchase the training manual for $40. Other incidental costs include:
    ▪ Obtaining 2 criminal record clearances for each of the applicant(s) and other adults living in the home.
    ▪ Becoming First Aid & CPR Certified
    ▪ Health screening and TB tests for each adult in the home (if not covered by your insurance)
    ▪ DMV Printout
    ▪ Copies of marriage, divorce and military documents

    DCFS will reimburse an adoptive family up to $400 of non-recurring adoption expenses that will cover some of the incidental costs above. Families will also have access to a pro-bono attorney to finalize their adoption. Additionally, there is a substantial tax credit for everyone who finalizes an adoption that an accountant can explain further.

  • Must I live in a house to be a foster parent?

    No, you may live in a house or in an apartment as long as you have the necessary space to accommodate a child. You do not need to own your home or apartment.

  • Are there vehicle requirements?

    Yes, you must have a reliable vehicle that is large enough to accommodate the number of adults and children in your family. You must maintain all required automobile insurance, and the person(s) who will be driving must have a current drivers license and clean driving record. You are required to provide car seats, which must meet all legal requirements based on the child’s age and weight.

  • Will the child’s birth family be visiting or phoning?

    Yes. The birth family has the right to visit with and contact their children who are in care under conditions set by the Children’s Dependency Court. Each case is different and guidelines are specific to the case. Visits are almost always monitored. We can arrange visits here at our office or at a neutral location.

  • Am I free to discipline the children as I see fit?

    No, there are strict disciplinary guidelines. No physical punishment, such as hitting, slapping, or shoving is permitted; and no withholding of the necessities of life, such as food and clothing, are allowed. This is true for the foster children in your home as well as birth children you may have.

  • How long does a child usually remain in placement?

    Each child’s situation is unique and these decisions are made by Children’s Dependency Court, based on recommendations from the DCFS social worker.

  • Will I receive any type of payment for the care of a child in my home?

    Yes, resource parents receive a tax free, monthly reimbursement per child as established by the State of California. The County issues a Medi-Cal card, which allows for free medical and dental care, as well as some counseling services. If a child age 0-5 years is placed with you, you are entitled to Women, Infant and Children (WIC) benefits.

  • What is the maximum number of children allowed in a home?

    The maximum number of children allowed in a home is six, including minor birth children.

  • How many children may sleep in one bedroom?

    Two children of the same sex may share a room at any age. Exceptions are: 1) children of the opposite sex who are under the age of 5 can share a room; and 2) a teenage mother with her own child can share a room. Children under the age of 2 can be in the same bedroom as parents.

  • May I specify the ages and sex of the children who are placed in my home?

    Yes, it is important that the age and sex of the children placed in your home fit in well with your family.

  • What happens if I have an emergency during the evening or on the weekend?

    We have a 24-hour per day response system. Call our office, leave a message and someone will return your call within two hours.

  • Can I do an independent adoption?

    We can assist families who are interested in independent adoption. Attorneys and facilitators in the community match the families with children. The agency provides home study services, emotional support, post-placement supervision, and adoption workshops.

  • Does financial support terminate after an adoption is finalized?

    In a fost-adopt situation, the adoptive family is entitled to Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) financial support once adoption placement papers are signed. This is a monthly benefit that continues until the child is 18 years old. The monthly AAP rate is equal to what the county foster care rate would have been should that child have remained in the foster care system. Additionally, the child is entitled to Medi-Cal benefits until the age of 18.

  • Are there Post Adoption Services?

    Adoption is a life-long process. At any stage of development issues may arise that you need to help your child work through. In Los Angeles County there are many support services and resources for families after an adoption through foster care is finalized.

  • What is the cost for an independent adoption?

    The cost varies depending on a variety of factors, such as attorney fees, matching fees, medical costs of the birthmother and whether or not the birthmother needs living expenses. There are State Guidelines about what can and cannot be paid for and the amount of support which can be given. The attorney you choose to work with will be able to give you more detailed information.

  • What is the cost of the adoption home study in an Independent adoption?

    The cost is $2,500.00.

  • Who chooses the family for the child in an Independent adoption?

    The birthparent(s) choose the adoptive parents for their child.

  • Does a child in an Independent adoption have to go into the foster care system?

    No. A child may be discharged from the hospital directly to the adoptive parents.

  • Is there contact between the birth parents and adoptive parents after the child is adopted?

    Whether or not there is continued contact is at the discretion of the adoptive parent(s) and the birthparent(s). Legally, there does not have to be contact. However, it is important to assess what is in the best interest of everyone involved.

  • What is the difference between foster care and adoption?

    Foster care is a temporary situation for children and youth in need of a safe place to live until they can safely return to their birth family. Adoption is a permanent situation creating a new and legally binding parent and child relationship. Adoption means a lifelong commitment to a child.

  • Who can become a foster/fost-adopt parent?


    Click here to learn more about the qualifications involved.

  • • 12-Month Review Hearing

    The "permanency hearing" or "12 month review hearing," must take place no later than 12 months after the date the child entered foster care which is the date of jurisdiction or 60 days from the date of removal, whichever is earlier.  At the permanency hearing, in addition to all other review hearing issues, for youth 16 years and older, the court must determine whether services have been made available to assist in the transition from foster care to independent living.


    At each review hearing be it 6, 12, 18, or 24 months, the court must return the child to the custody of the parents unless there is evidence before the court to establish that return would be detrimental to the child. There are escalating standards for continuing the case as it moves from a 6 to a 12 to an 18 or a 24 month hearing.  Services can be extended from the 12 month hearing to a date 18 months from the date of initial removal only if the court finds that there is a substantial probability the child will be returned and safely maintained in the home. To make that finding of a substantial probability of a safe and lasting return within the period to the 18 months hearing the court must make all of the following findings:


    • The parent has consistently and regularly contacted and visited the child.
    • The parent has made significant progress in resolving the problems that led to the child’s removal from the home.
    • The parent has demonstrated the capacity or ability or both to complete the objectives of his or her treatment plan and to provide for the child’s safety, protection, physical and emotional well-being and special needs.


    If the court finds by a preponderance of evidence that it would be detrimental to return the child and there is substantial probability of return and finds by clear and convincing evidence that reasonable services have been provided, the court may terminate reunification services and set a § 366.26 hearing within 120 days to determine the permanent plan.