Placing Children Outside of the Country
0100-525.11 | Revision Date: 7/1/2014


This policy provides guidelines and procedures of placing children with a parent or relative outside of the United States.

Table of Contents

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 07/10/2013 version, as part of the Policy Redesign, in accordance with the DCFS Strategic Plan.


Placement Outside of the Country

Whenever a placement outside of the United States is necessary, the CSW must assess whether the placement is in the child’s best interest. The court will not order an out of country placement of a child prior to establishing that it is in the best interest of the child, unless the placement is with the child’s parent.

The CSW must identify and address the child’s feelings, and assess the ability of the potential caregiver to attend to the child’s needs to the best of their ability. Caregivers outside of the country will not receive any financial assistance through Foster Care and KinGAP programs. The CSW, when possible, must plan for contact (telephone or physical) with the prospective caregiver in an effort to ensure the child’s comfort with moving out of the country.

In cases where the court may order the placement of a school-age child in another country, the CSW must research the issues of education and advise the court accordingly with the assistance of the International Placement Unit (IPU).

Neither DCFS nor the court may authorize placement of a child in another country until an international plan and home study have been received from the receiving country.

International Placement Unit (IPU)

The International Placement Unit (IPU) provides assistance to DCFS staff when placing children with their parent(s) or relatives who resides in another country. Any child(ren) referred to the International Placement Unit must already be declared a dependent(s) of the juvenile court.

All international home study requests must be for the purposes of placement of a child(ren) with a parent or relative, and all must be processed through the International Placement Unit. Approved home studies are good for only six (6) months. If placement does not take place within that timeframe, the international case will be closed.

Placement with a Non-Related/Extended Family Member (NREFM) does not qualify for an international home study. IPU does not process requests for international adoptions, welfare checks, birth, death, or marriage certificates, due diligence on parents/relatives or a visit by a dependent child.

International Home studies are done as a professional courtesy. There are no formal agreements/compacts between Los Angeles County DCFS and other countries. Los Angeles County Dependency Court does not have legal authority over social services in other countries. Procedures differ amongst countries and are subject to change. In some cases, a country may charge a fee for completing the home study.

Requests for home studies from other countries are also completed/processed by the International Placement Unit (IPU) for the purpose of placement with a parent or relative. The International Placement Unit (IPU) does not process requests from other countries for NREFMs. Approved home studies are good for six (6) months, if placement does not take place within 6 months, the international case will be closed. International Placement Unit (IPU) conducts the home study and determines whether placement is appropriate and in the best interest of the child. If the assessment of the proposed placement resource is favorable, IPU must forward a request to Resource Family Approval (RFA)for an assessment of the placement resource’s home. Incoming International home study request packets must include the following:

  • A formal letter requesting the home study, information regarding the placement resource and the reason why the child is in the sending country’s custody.
  • A legal document indicating that the child is a court dependent.
  • A report on the child’s educational, medical, dental and emotional well being.
  • Case Plan including the permanent plan for the child’s care.
  • Family Time orders/restrictions.

Requests for an International Placement

CSW Responsibilities

  1. When a child(ren) is declared a dependent(s) of the juvenile court, and relatives who reside out of the country express interest in caring for the child(ren), the CSW must work to obtain pertinent information about these individuals.
  2. When requesting an out-of-country placement, DCFS has the burden of proof to show that the placement is in the best interest of the child. The CSW must include the following factors in the court report:
    1. Whether the placement is with a relative
    2. Whether the placement would assist with placing siblings in the same home
    3. Amount and nature of any contact between the child and the potential caregiver
    4. Physical and medical needs of the child
    5. Psychological and emotional needs of the child
    6. Social, cultural and educational needs of the child
    7. The placement desires of a child who is twelve (12) years and older
  3. CSW must also ensure that the court order be worded as follows:
    • “The court orders DCFS to initiate an international home study request for (full name of parent/relative), (relationship to the child) in (name of country).”
  4. CSW must also request that the minute order be translated to the receiving country’s official language and that both the original and translated minute order be signed by the Judge and stamped with the court’s official seal.
  5. Once the minute order is received, assemble an International Home Study Request packet. It must consist of the following:
    1. Minute order signed by the hearing officer
    2. A letter written by the CSW on DCFS letterhead, requesting that the receiving country’s social service agency complete a home study for the purpose of placement. The letter should also include:
      1. Reasons the child(ren) were taken into custody
      2. Any educational, medical and/or psychological problems the child(ren) may have
      3. Parent/Relative’s full name, address, and telephone number in the foreign country
      4. The nationality and legal status of the child(ren)
      5. Family Time orders/restrictions
  6. Forward or fax the International Home Study Request Packet to the attention of the OCS/International Placement Unit located at 1933 S. Broadway , 5th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90007, Phone (888) 303-5111, Fax (213) 742-7070.
  7. If the child/NMD is undocumented and the international placement is not a permanent placement, consult with the Special Immigrant Status (SIS) unit at (323) 725-4679 to determine if a referral should be submitted.

IPU Responsibilities

  1. IPU SCSW assigns secondary assignment on CWS/CMS to an IPU Coordinator.
  2. IPU Coordinator will contact DCFS CSW to discuss case specifics and requirements for an international home study request.
  3. IPU Coordinator must ensure that all required documents are received from CSW.
  4. Contact social services, consulate/embassy or other designated government officials in the receiving country, to discuss their policies/procedures for processing international home study requests.
  5. Notify CSW of the requirements as dictated by the receiving country.
  6. Assume the role of liaison between receiving countries officials, DCFS staff and Los Angeles County Dependency Court.
    • All dealings with the receiving country should exclusively be handled by IPU.

Receiving the International Home Study

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Evaluate the home study when it is returned by IPU.
  2. Submit the home study to the court with a recommendation for approval or denial of the placement.
    1. Attach the original and translated copies of the home study to the court report.
    2. The home study must have an overall positive recommendation in order to consider placing a child(ren) with a parent/relative.
  3. If recommending for the child(ren) to be internationally placed, obtain the following documents:
    1. An original birth certificate for each child. (Photocopies will not be accepted).
    2. Copies of the child’s original school records (if applicable) – (Photocopies will not be accepted).
    3. Psychological evaluation (if applicable), medical and dental records.
    4. Valid U.S. passport or passport from country of origin for non-U.S. citizens.
    5. If the child(ren) is a U.S. citizen, Visa issued from the country they are traveling to (if applicable).
  4. Documents need to be authenticated by the California Secretary of State Office.
    1. Check with IPU to determine which documents require authentication.

Placing and Transporting a Child to Another Country

CSW Responsibilities

  1. If the home study is favorable, recommend that the child be transported to a specific parent/relative or social service agency in the receiving country.
  2. Discuss the case with International Placement Coordinator to ensure compliance with international placement protocol.
  3. The minute order from the court granting consent for the child(ren) to be placed outside of the United States must :
    1. Be signed by the hearing officer
    2. Be translated by the court to the official language of the country receiving the child(ren).
    3. Clearly state the name of the child(ren), and that he/she is ordered to be placed in the custody of (give full name of placement resource and relationship to the child).
    4. Clearly state that the DCFS staff member (give full name) is authorized to transport the child(ren) to the city and country of destination.
    5. Both the English and translated version of the minute order must be exemplified (using an official seal) and authenticated (Apostille) by the California Secretary of State Office.
      • Check with the IPU to determine which documents the receiving country requires to be authenticated.
    6. Check with the IPU to determine which documents the receiving country requires to be authenticated.
    7. Submit the minute orders and any other notarized documents for authentication by the Secretary of State.
      • Documents submitted to the Secretary of State must be certified within the last five years by the appropriate public official or must be notarized by a California Notary Public.
  4. If documents need to be notarized, notify your ARA that Notary Services are required to process the out-of-country placement.
    • The CSW requesting the Notary Services needs to have a valid California ID such as a Driver’s License.
    • Ensure that the notarization of all applicable documents is completed by a notary.
  5. Submit documents to be authenticated (Apostille)
    1. An appointment is not necessary to submit in person. A processing fee (per signature authenticated) and a handling fee may apply. The fee may be waived if the CSW presents their county badge along with a letter on DCFS letterhead from their SCSW indicating that the CSW is on official business. The address is as follows:
      • 300 South Spring Street, Room 12513, Los Angeles, CA 90013, (213) 897-306, Monday-Friday 8:00 am-4:30 pm
    2. If submitting by mail, note that the processing time is typically three (3) to five (5) business days from the date the request is received and there is a fee. Please see the California Secretary of State website on what to include in the packet. Submit packet to the following address:
      • Notary Public Section, P.O. Box 942877, Sacramento, CA 94277.
  6. Notify the IPU that all documents have been obtained and request assistance with making arrangement for placement in the receiving country.
  7. Arrange transportation for DCFS CSW to accompany the child(ren), if the child(ren) must be accompanied by an adult other than a parent or relative, by completing the DCFS 304.
  8. The CSW transporting the child will need the child(ren)’s international travel documents, a copy of the minute order, passport, travel tickets, the consulate document authorizing transportation of the child(ren) and other appropriate documents (health, school, etc.) when transporting the child(ren).
  9. CSW must maintain monthly contact with the family and report any concerns to IPU.

Regional ARA Responsibilities

  1. Make a request for Notary Services by calling one of the three (3) following notaries:
    • Tom Ross, (310) 225-6789
    • Daniel Borquez, (626) 840-4333
    • Robert Marshall, (323) 296-6491
  2. The notary will send their billing to the ARA who requested the services.
  3. Review billing from notary for approval or denial. If approving the billing, complete the following:
    1. Make two (2) copies of the notary’s billing.
    2. Complete the DCFS 250 and be sure to include the Fund ORG Code.
    3. Both signatures on the DCFS 250 must be ARA level or above.
    4. Mail the completed DCFS 250 , the original, as well as one copy of the notary’s billing to:
      1. Procurement Services/Forms Management Section, 501 Shatto Place, Suite 300, Los Angeles, CA 90020
      2. Procurement staff will review ARA approval and send notary’s billing for payment using to the Fiscal Operations-Accounting Services Section.
      3. The Fiscal Operation Division-Accounting Services Section will approve and mail check to the notary.

IPU Responsibilities

  1. Coordinate and plan the details of the international placement with the CSW. Remain in contact with the CSW/SCSW throughout the placement process.
  2. Establish and maintain contact with the receiving country’s social services before and after the placement is made.
  3. Request supervision from the receiving country’s social services to assure the child(ren) has adjusted to the placement until termination can be recommended.

Incoming International Cases

IPU Responsibilities

  1. Complete a home study in accordance with the rules and regulations of Los Angeles County DCFS.
  2. Refer appropriate proposed placement resource to Resource Family Approval (RFA) process for NREFM assessment.
  3. Translate the home study to the primary language of the sending country.
    • Utilize the DCFS list of approved bilingual staff for assistance in translation for non-English/Spanish speaking countries.
  4. Once the home study is complete, including translation, submit for review and approval by IPU Liaison SCSW.
  5. Document any conditions of placement and obtain a written agreement from the sending country.
  6. If placement is made the sending country must give the placement resource a legal document granting them full legal/physical custody of the child(ren).
  7. If the child(ren) is not an American citizen, the parent/relative in the United States must work directly with the Immigration Department prior to placement of the child in the United States to ensure compliance with all Immigration laws.

International Placement Unit (IPU) SCSW Approval

  • Home Study
  • Assignment
  • Supervision

Resource Family Approval (RFA) SCSW Approval

  • Home Study
  • Assignment
  • Supervision

Regional ARA Approval

  • Home Study
  • Assignment
  • Supervision
  • Notary Services


LA Kids

DCFS Letterhead

DCFS 250, Procurement Request

DCFS 304, Case Related Travel Request.

Hard Copy

Cover Letter for the International Placement on DCFS letterhead

International Home Study Request


0100-520.10, Evaluating a Prospective Caregiver

0100-525.10, Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC)

1200-500.10, Vital Records (Birth, Death, Marriage and Divorce)

1200-500.86, Immigration Options for Undocumented Children and Families

1200-501.40, Obtaining a Passport for a Child/Youth Under DCFS Supervision


U.S. Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2 – Dictates that all treaties made shall be the supreme law of the land and are binding on federal, state, and local government officials to the extent that they pertain to matters within such officials’ competence.

Annex to the MOU on Consular Protection between the U.S. and the United Mexican States; 57 STAT .800, Treaty Series 985 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations – Outlines the rights of children with dual citizenship; the requirements of consular notification; procedures for sharing information with foreign consulates when complying with notice requirements or requesting assistance and services; and the requirements of maintaining all matters confidential that are related to legal affairs, particularly cases involving custody and adoption of children.