Foster Parent

  • Foster Parent (also called Resource Families) – provide temporary out-of-home care for foster children while arrangements are made to return the children to birth families. Foster parents do not replace a child’s birth family, but foster parents do assume many of the roles of the child’s parents and must provide for the child’s needs beyond food and shelter while the child is in their home.

Relative Caregiver

  • Relative Caregiver – California (AB 938, 2009) and Federal law (PL 110-351) requires that when a child is removed from the home, known relatives must be located, contacted and told about the child’s removal within the first 30 days of the removal. The law allows for consideration of relatives as a placement resource for the child during this difficult time. According to Welfare and Institutions Code section WIC 361.3(c)(2) – Relative means an adult who is related to the child by blood, adoption, or affinity within the words “great”, “great-great”, or “grand” or the spouse of any of these persons even if the marriage was terminated by death or dissolution. However, only the following relatives shall be given preferential consideration for the placement of the child: an adult who is a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling. The expectations of a relative who accepts placement of a child in their home are the same as those for licensed foster parents.

Non-Related Extended Family Member (NREFM)

  • Non-Related Extended Family Member (NREFM) – The law defines a Non-Related Extended Family Member (NREFM) as an adult who has an established familial or mentoring relationship with the child, such as a godparent, a teacher, or a neighbor. The county welfare department shall verify the existence of a relationship through interviews with the parent and child or with one or more third parties. The third parties may include relatives of the child, teachers, medical professionals, clergy, neighbors, and family friends.

Legal Guardianship

  • Legal Guardianship  – Legal guardianship is a court order that says someone who is not the child’s parent is in charge of taking care of the child. Legal guardians have many of the same rights and responsibilities as parents.

Guardianship is most frequently used by relative caregivers who wish to provide a permanent home for the child and maintain relationships with extended family members. Unlike adoption requirements, caregivers can assume legal guardianship of a child in out-of-home care without termination of parental rights.

  • Non-related Legal Guardian
  • Relative Guardian (Kinship Guardian)
  • NOTE: There are 2 kinds of guardianships in California. Most guardianship cases are in probate court. If Child Protective Services (CPS) is involved in the case or the child is a dependent of the juvenile court, the guardianship case will probably be in juvenile court.

Foster/Adopt Parent

  • Foster/Adopt Parent (also called Concurrent or Resource Families) – Concurrent caregivers are foster parents and prospective adoptive parents at the same time. Concurrent caregivers can be relatives or non-relative foster parents who provide foster care for children while reunification services are provided to the child and his or her birth parents. Concurrent caregivers actively support reunification efforts and are also willing to provide a permanent home when it is not possible for children to reunify with their parents. If reunification with the birth family does not occur, the concurrent caregivers may then pursue adoption.

Adoptive Parent

  • Adoptive Parent – these families provide a permanent, safe, stable and loving home for a child when it has been determined that the child cannot safely be returned to their birth parents. Adoptive parents can be relatives or non-relative families.

Contact Us

Office of the Foster Care Ombudsman
Toll-free telephone: 1-877-846-1602


Giving a Child a Permanent Home – Choices for Relatives (PUB 344) – this pamphlet will explain some of the major differences among adoption, guardianship, and foster care and the choices a relative has when the relative child cannot return to live safely with his or her parent.

A Comparison of Financial Benefits – choices regarding adoption, legal guardianship, and foster care – adapted from A Guide to Permanency Options for Youth, Alameda County SSA, Updated April 2009

Agency – Foster Parents Agreement – SOC 156 – this agreement will be initiated when the child is placed by the agency into the foster home/facility and whenever the rate changes.

Agency – Foster Parents Placement Agreement – SOC 156A – this agreement will be initiated when the Non-Minor Dependent (NMD) is placed in the foster home/facility and whenever the rate changes.

There’s No Place Like Home: A Guide to Permanency Options for Foster Youth (link removed) – A publication of the Sacramento County Ruby Slippers Project, a collaboration between Sacramento County Child Protective Services and the California Permanency for Youth Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assuring that no youth will leave the California child welfare system without a permanent, lifelong connection to a caring adult. This guide is one of the initiative’s first projects.