Placement Capacity
0100-510.10 | Revision Date: 4/14/2023

Overview

This policy guide provides information about licensed placement capacity, and what to do when placing beyond licensed capacity.

Table of Contents

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 12/23/14 version to reflect changes in the law due to Assembly Bill 366 (2021-2022) which prohibits the physical capacity of the home from being the sole reason to deny placement of a sibling group if each child in the home has an age-appropriate place to sleep and there are no other safety risks.

POLICY

Placement Capacity

Placement capacity in resource family home is limited to six (6) children living in the household (age birth to eighteen (18) years), with certain exceptions.  This capacity limit includes birth, guardianship, adopted, foster (including nonminor dependents) and all other related and non-related children living in the caregiver’s home.  However, capacity can exceed six (6) children to allow a minor or nonminor dependent parent to remain with their child, or to allow a child or nonminor dependent who has an established relationship with a resource family to remain with that resource family.

Resource Family Approval (RFA) Emergency Capacity Increases

The placing Children’s Social Worker (CSW) may seek an emergency capacity increase in order to keep siblings together, to place a minor or nonminor dependent parent with their child or to place children with relatives or non-related extended family members (NREFMs). In order to comply with the law and the best interests of the child(ren), DCFS social workers may seek emergency approval to increase capacity of existing approved Resource Family Home (RFH).

When a Resource Family is approved, a RFA Certificate (RFA 05A) is issued which indicates the total capacity of how many children can be placed in the home. Children are allowed to be placed in the home on an emergency basis even if it exceeds the family’s capacity, as long as there is a “compelling reason”, such as keeping siblings together, placing a minor or nonminor dependent parent with their child, or placing in a relative’s home, with ARA approval.

A RFH may request that their home be placed on inactive status for up to two-years if they are not caring for a child. While under inactive status, the RFH is not eligible to provide foster care and is not subject to RFA requirements. In such situations, there is no Resource Family Support (RFS) CSW assigned to the case. If an RFH in inactive status wants to return to active status to care for a relative or NREFM, RFA Written Directives allow a child to be placed with a relative, non-related extended family member (NREFM), or a resource family ‘who is considered critical to the best interest of the child’, while on inactive status. However, the Written Directives require that the County immediately initiate an update to ensure the home meets RFA requirements. Therefore, the placing CSW should contact RFS Division as described below to coordinate the placement and temporarily lift the hold on CWS/CMS.

Children Under 3 Years Old

CSW cannot place a child younger than 36 months of age (3 years old) in a relative/nonrelative extended family member or in a foster family home if two (2) or more children under 36 months of age already reside in the household, unless an exception is approved by the ARA.  An exception must be based on the special needs and best interests of the child (e.g., sibling placements).

Specialized ResourceCare Homes

No more than two children with or without special health care needs shall reside in a specialized resource care home with the following exceptions:

  1. A specialized resource care home may have a third child with or without special health care needs placed in that home provided that the capacity is not exceeded and provided that all of the following conditions have been met:
  2. The child’s placement worker has determined and documented that no other placement is available.
  3. For each child in placement and the child to be placed, the child’s placement worker has determined that the child’s psychological and social needs will be met by placement in the home and has documented that determination. New determinations shall be made and documented each time there is an increase or turnover in children placed in the specialized resourcefoster care home and the two-child capacity limit is exceeded.
  4. The individualized health care plan team responsible for the ongoing care of each child with special health care needs involved has considered the number of adoptive, biological, and foster children, and children in guardianship living in the home and determined that the two-child limit may be exceeded without jeopardizing the health and safety of that child, and has documented that determination. New determinations shall be made and documented each time there is an increase or turnover in children placed in the specialized resource care home and the two-child capacity limit is exceeded.

Intensive Services Foster Care (ISFC)

No more than one (1) child with Serious Emotional and Behavioral Needs (SEBN) and/or Special Health Care Needs (SHCN) can be placed in a certified ISFC family home unless the participating ISFC FFA provides the department with a written assessment of the risk and compatibility of placing two (2) children with Serious Emotional and Behavioral Needs (SEBN) and/or Special Health Care Needs (SHCN) together.

More than two (2) children with Serious Emotional and Behavioral Needs (SEBN) and/or Special Health Care Needs (SHCN) who are siblings may be placed together in the same certified family home if the placement is approved by the Interagency Placement Review Team (IPRT).

There cannot be more than a total of five (5) children living (a maximum of 3 children with Serious Emotional and Behavioral Needs (SEBN) and/or Special Health Care Needs (SHCN) in an ISFC Certified Family Home with two (2) adults. There cannot be  more than a total of three (3) children living in an ISFC Certified Family Home with one (1) adult, except in cases where children living in the home other than those placed are fifteen (15) years of age or older.

Only ISFC eligible children can be placed in ISFC foster homes, unless there has been approval in advance by the IPRT.

Back to Policy  

PROCEDURE

Placing a Child in Out-of-Home Care

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Specify the child’s placement needs on the DCFS Auto 280.
  2. Select a placement that will meet the needs of the child, including the need for legal permanency.
  3. If the placement selected is the home of a relative/nonrelative extended family member, FFA certified foster family home or a resource family home, identify and list in the Contact Notebook the names of all of the children age birth to eighteen (18) years old living in that home. 
    • If the placement will result in more than six (6) children living in the home or placing more than two (2) children with special needs in a specialized resource family home, refer to instructions on requesting exceptions a capacity increase.
  4. If a suitable caregiver match is identified, review the placement decision with and obtain approval from the SCSW.
    • If the SCSW approves the placement selection, follow the procedures set forth in Placement Responsibilities.
    • If the SCSW does not approve of the placement selection, receive from the SCSW the DCFS Auto 280 and other documentation for corrective action and/or consultation, as appropriate.
  5. Make face-to-face contact with the relative/nonrelative extended family member, FFA certified foster parent or resource parent according to contact requirements.
    • During these contacts, verify that the composition of the household continues to comply with DCFS capacity requirements of no more than a total of six (6) children in the household.
    • Update the Contact Notebook regarding the compliance of the household composition, as appropriate.
  6. Advise the caregiver that if a violation of DCFS capacity policy is discovered:
    • The CSW will request an exception to the DCFS capacity policy; or,
    • The child(ren) will be removed because the home is out of compliance with DCFS capacity policy.

Requesting to Have a Child Placed in the Home on an Emergency Basis that Requires Either a Capacity Increase or Reactivate an Inactive Hold

Placing CSW Responsibilities

  1. Verify there are no safety risks in the home.
  2. Consult with TA to find out reason for Inactive status.
  3. Request approval from their Supervising Children’s Social Worker (SCSW) for the child that needs placement.
  4. Complete the Emergency Request to Change RFA Capacity or Reactivate an Inactive RFA Home form.
  5. Submit the form to the RFSPD Division Inbox at RFSPD@dcfs.lacounty.gov
    • DCFS has two divisions involved with RFHs: Resource Family Approval (RFA), which works with families pre-approval, and Resource Family Support (RFS), which works with RFH after approval; Capacity increases are handled by RFS Division. 
  6. Once notification is received from RFS Division that the capacity increase or reactivation has been granted, the child can physically be placed prior to RFS Division changing the capacity on CWS/CMS, but the placement paperwork will not be able to be generated.
  7. If the court orders an emergency placement of a child or children into an resource family home that will exceed the capacity, make a request for an emergency RFA capacity increase to the RFSPD Division Inbox (RFSPD@dcfs.lacounty.gov) within one (1) business day.
  8. After sending the e-mail, contact the assigned RFS CSW and RFS SCSW as identified on CWS/CMS; see FYI 18-19 on how to find the assigned RFS CSW.

RFS Division SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Once the form is received and no safety risks have been identified, temporarily change the capacity to accommodate the child(ren).
  2. Notify the placing CSW or SCSW that the capacity has been changed.
  3. Respond as soon as possible, but no later than the next business day.

Placing SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Authorize the Technical Assistant (TA) to create placement documents and obtain MediCal benefits for the child/ren. Placement documents should be generated within 24 hours of hold being lifted, and the hold will be reinstated thereafter.

RFS Division CSW Responsibilities

  1. Assess the home within 30 days to determine if the capacity increase can remain.
  2. If the assessment finds that RFS cannot approve the capacity increase due to safety reasons, the child(ren) may need to be replaced.
  3. The physical capacity of the home shall not be the sole reason to deny placement of a sibling group if each child in the home has an age-appropriate place to sleep and there are no other safety risks.

Requesting an Emergency RFA Capacity Increase Prior to Placement

Placing CSW Responsibilities

  1. If it is known ahead of time that placement may be needed in a home that is inactive or does not have enough capacity, a request for an Emergency RFA Capacity Increase may be made to the RFS Division Inbox (RFSPD@dcfs.lacounty.gov) using the Emergency Request to Change RFA Capacity or Reactivate an Inactive RFA Home form.
    • The RFS Division will respond as soon as possible, but no later than the next business day.

Requesting an Update When There is a Change in Circumstances on an RFA Approved Home

CSW Responsibilities

  1. If new circumstances are noted, which require an update to the RFA assessment. Such changes include a new non-dependent child or adult living in the home, moving to a new address, or other change in circumstance affecting the household or RFA status.
  2. When new circumstances are noted, the CSW should submit the new information to the RFS Division Inbox (RFSPD@dcfs.lacounty.gov). The RFS CSW will be alerted and work to complete the RFA Update.
APPROVALS

SCSW Approval

  • Placement
  • Emergency Request to Change RFA Capacity or Reactivate an Inactive RFA Home

ARA Approval

  • Emergency Request to Change RFA Capacity or Reactivate an Inactive RFA Home
HELPFUL LINKS
REFERENCED POLICY GUIDES

0100-510.61, Placement Responsibilities

0100-520.10, Evaluating a Prospective Caregiver

0400-503.10, Contact Requirements and Exceptions

0600-505.10, Placing Children with Special Health Care Needs

0900-522.11, Specialized Care Increment (SCI) – F-Rate

FYI 18-19, Supporting Resource Families

FYI 22-12, Resource Family Approvla (RFA) Emergency Capacity Increases

STATUTES AND OTHER MANDATES

Health and Safety Code Section 1505.2 – States that a licensing agency may authorize a foster family home to provide 24-hour care for up to eight foster children, for the purpose of placing siblings or half siblings together in foster care. This authorization may be granted only if certain conditions are met.

Manual of Community Care Licensing, Title 22, Division 6, Chapter 9.5 80028 – Sets forth the number of children for whom the facility is licensed to provide care and supervision shall be determined on the basis of the application review by the licensing agency.

Manual of Community Care Licensing, Title 22, Division 6, Chapter 9.5, Section 89224(b) – States that the licensing agency shall have the authority to waive or grant an exception to a specific regulation(s) if the request demonstrates how the intent of the regulation(s) will be met and under specific circumstances:

Manual of Community Care Licensing, Title 22, Division 6, Chapter 9.5 Section 89228(a) – States that the number of children for whom the foster family home is licensed to provide care and supervision shall be established on the basis of the application review by the licensing agency and lists certain conditions that must be taken into consideration.

Manual of Community Care Licensing, Title 22, Division 6, Chapter 9.5 Section 89387 - Sets forth the building and grounds requirements for foster homes including the number of children per bedroom, provision of basic items including beds, storage area and requirements for maintaining the home, clean, safe, sanitary and in good repair at all times.

Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 17710 – Provides the definition for “Child with special health care needs”.

WIC Section 17732 – Sets forth limitations on the number of foster children residing in a specialized foster care home and the exceptions to the capacity limitations.

WIC Section 18358.15 – Specifies the services for children placed in foster care; maximum number in certified family home; report of physical contact to manage behavior.