Answers to common questions about foster care and adoption.

What geographical area do you serve?

We serve all of Los Angeles County.

Who can become a resource (foster) parent through Extraordinary Families?

Anyone over the age of 25 living within Los Angeles County who is interested in providing a loving home to a child or youth in foster care can apply to foster through Extraordinary Families regardless of race, color, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.

Do I need special training?

Yes, but we provide this training for you. Training involves a 2-hour orientation and 21 hours of pre-service training. You will also need to become CPR/First Aid certified and maintain certification. Once you are an approved foster parent, you will need to maintain 12 hours of continuing education annually to maintain your approval status.

What is a Family Assessment?

A Family Assessment (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 documentation you are required to submit.  A thorough family assessment 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 must also complete criminal and child abuse clearances, physical exams and TB screenings, and provide personal references.

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 car 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 and safety requirements based on the child’s age and weight.

Must I live in a home to be a resource (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 also do not need to own your home or apartment.

How long does it take to become approved to foster?

After you complete your pre-service training, it usually takes about three to four months to become approved and ready for a child to join your home. 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 family assessment interviews.

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.

May I specify the age range and genders I would like to parent?

Yes. It is important that the age and gender of the children who join your home fit in well with your family.

How long can it take before a child can join my home and family?

Once you are an approved resource parent, a child can join your home in foster care immediately. The characteristics of the child you wish to join your home can impact this. The more open you are to older children, sibling groups, and different ethnicities, the faster you can be matched with a child.

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 a bedroom?

No more than 4 children may share a bedroom. Children under the age of 2 can be in the same bedroom as parents (but no more than 2 infants at a time). Children of different genders may share a bedroom under any of the following circumstances:

  • Each child is under eight years of age.
  • The children are siblings.
  • A minor parent may share a bedroom with his/her/their child.
  • A foster family agency is permitting a child to share a bedroom consistent with the child’s gender identity regardless of the gender or sex listed on his/her/their court or child welfare documents.

A child and nonminor dependent may share a bedroom under any of the following circumstances:

  • The child and nonminor dependent are siblings.
  • The child and nonminor dependent have been sharing a bedroom prior to the nonminor dependent turning 18 and remain compatible.
  • A nonminor dependent parent may share a bedroom with his/her/their child.
  • The child is 16 years of age or older.

Will the child's birth family be visiting or calling?

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

Am I free to discipline the child 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 all children in your home, including any birth children you may have.

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 also issues a Medi-Cal card, which allows for free medical and dental care, as well as some counseling services. If a child 5 or under joins your home, you are eligible for Women, Infant and Children (WIC) benefits, too.

How long does a child typically stay in foster care?

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

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

We have a 24-hour emergency response system. A representative from EF is on call everyday after hours and on holidays weekends at (213) 590-8488 to address emergencies or special incidents. In a life-threatening emergency, call 911 first.

Can a child in foster care be adopted?

When a child cannot safely return to their birth family, they may be adopted. We call this process foster-to-adopt. The first priority for adoption is given to the resource parents, with whom the child has lived and has developed an attachment. 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.

What does it cost to foster or adopt from foster care?

The required orientation and pre-service training is offered at no cost, but you will need to purchase the training manual for $50. 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 (if applicable)

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.

How long can it take to finalize an adoption from foster care?

There are many factors involved in a case moving though foster care to adoption. A child may be in your care for as long as one to two years before adoption is an option. Much depends on how far along in the legal process the case is in when a child joins your home. Once parental rights have been terminated for the birth family, 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.

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 supportive services and resources for families after an adoption through foster care is finalized.

Does financial support stop once an adoption is finalized?

When adopting from foster care, 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.

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.

Can I do an independent adoption through Extraordinary Families?

We can assist families who are interested in independent adoption. Attorneys and facilitators in the community match the families with children. We provide the family assessment services, emotional support, post-placement supervision, and adoption workshops.

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 a family assessment through Extraordinary Families for 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 the child of an independent adoption have to go through the foster care system?

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