The People's Guide

36th Edition 2015

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The People's Guide 2015 22 Foster Care Foster Care Children who are abused or neglected, or whose families are unable or unwilling to care for them, may become the responsi- bility of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Los Angeles County. Report child abuse at (800) 540- 4000 /TDD (800) 272-6699. How Are Children Placed in Foster Care? DCFS may file a petition with the Depen- dency Court to have the child removed from the parent(s)' custody and placed with a relative or in a licensed foster home. If the child was already taken from the parents, the petition must be filed within 48 hours. The court will usually approve or deny the petition the same day it is filed. If approved, the DCFS worker must immediately prepare an application for foster care benefits. Ask the worker if this was done. In some situations, DCFS and the child's parents may agree that the child should be taken from the home for a limited amount of time while the parent complies with a case plan to reunify with the child. In these cases, the parent and DCFS will complete a document called a Voluntary Placement Agreement which is good for only 180 days. After that, DCFS must either return the child to the parent or file a petition in dependency court. Is There Help for Caregivers? If you are caring for a child in your home who is not related to you, and was placed with you by DCFS, the child may be eligible for foster care benefits. You must either 1) Be the child's legal guardian or 2) Have a state licensed foster home. (There are different rules for children placed through a Foster Family Agency [FFA].) If you are caring for a related child (grand- child, cousin, niece, etc.) it can be difficult to get foster care benefits. These are often called "Youakim" cases. Your home does not have to be licensed by the state, but it must meet the same standards as for licensing. The child may be eligible if: • The child was removed from the parent(s) and placed with you by an order of the Dependency Court or Voluntary Placement Agreement. • DCFS is responsible for the child's placement and care; and • The child received or was eligible to receive CalWORKs while with the parent(s) in the month that DCFS filed the petition to have the court remove the child from the parent(s) or within the six months prior to that. Not all children who received CalWORKs will be eligible for foster care. 1. What are the Benefits? Foster care benefits are only for the child (not the adults).The child also gets one clothing allowance when placed and one yearly while in school. Age of child Basic Monthly Cash 0-4 $671 5-8 $726 9-11 $764 12-14 $800 15 & older $838 Aid in L.A. County as of 07/01/14 In Los Angeles County, there is a higher "specialized rate" for children with severe medical and/or psychological needs. If you think your foster child qualifies for this, ask the social worker to arrange an evalu- ation. If the child uses services from the Regional Center, they should recieve the "Dual Agency Rate" automatically. All children in foster care are eligible for Medi-Cal. If the child is living with a relative, but is not eligible for foster care benefits, the child should be eligible for CalWORKs without considering your income. If you are related to the foster child, and low-income, you may be able to get Cal- WORKs and Medi-Cal for yourself. You may also be eligible for CalFresh/food stamps, depending on your income. If you apply for CalFresh, you get to choose whether or not you want to include the foster child in your household. The foster child cannot receive CalFresh/food stamps unless they are included in your household. Ask your worker to explain other services available to foster children and their caregivers. 2. What Are My Rights? Call DCFS's Foster Care and Adoptions As- sistance Hotline at (800) 697-4444 if you have questions or problems with foster care eligibility or payment, to report a change of address, or for general questions. If you think you should be getting any of these benefits and are not, you can ask for a state hearing, even if you did not get a notice denying benefits. Call Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, at (800) 399-4529, or The Alliance for Children's Rights at (213) 368-6010 for help. As a foster parent, you can go to all court hearings involving your foster child, but you cannot speak unless the judge says you can. Every child in dependency has an attorney. You can call the attorney with any questions or concerns about the child's needs. You can ask the worker or the attorney to let you know when a court hearing is scheduled. If you have reason to believe a child related to you is in the Foster Care system, and you are willing to provide a home for that child, call the Child Abuse Hotline and give your name and information. You may or may not be contacted. Is There Help for Foster Youth Turning 18? If you are a foster youth who is turning 18, or recently turned 18, you may be eligible for extended foster care. Extended foster care is optional. If you choose to stay in extended foster care, you will have to agree to live in an approved home and meet with a social worker every month. If you are eligible for extended foster care when you turn 18, but choose to close your case, you may re-enter foster care any time before you turn 21. For more information about extended foster care: visit: or call: (877) 846-1602 If you are going out of care you can check out Housing options on page 60. What Are Other Options? 1. Legal Guardianship If you are an unrelated legal guardian, you may get State Foster Care benefits. The child does not have to be a dependent of the court. As soon as you get your tem- porary guardianship papers, call DCFS's

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