Questions frequently asked by Placement PROVIDERS

CASA of Humboldt realizes that relative and non related extended family members (NREFM) care providers in Humboldt County are not required to take foster parent training classes. This FAQ is meant to give you the information and tools you need to be able to provide excellent care. We would greatly appreciate your assistance to keep this information timely and helpful. If any of the information is out of date or if you have new questions or better answers, please let us know by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  Thank you!

Behavior/Discipline, Court/Attorneys, Education, Financing/Stipend, Guardianship/Adoption, Mental Health/Medical Concerns, Obtaining Documents, Resources, Respite/Babysitting, Social Services/Social Workers, Visitation with Biological Parents, Other
How do I report odd behaviors or stories?

Document the incident or story in writing and be sure to date it. Then notify the social worker and the CASA volunteer for the child.

How do I report child abuse?

If it is a reportable offense, you must report it to law enforcement (911) and / or social services as soon as possible. You can report child abuse at:

Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Social Services Branch
929 Koster Street
Eureka, CA 95501
(707) 445-6180 (hotline available 24 hours / 7days a week)

How do I find out if there are free classes I can attend to help me learn about specific issues relating to my child?

College of the Redwoods provides training classes. If you wish to attend any of the classes, contact Kelly Mendonca. If there are specific topics not offered that you would like to have covered, contact Kelly Mendonca (707)445-6727, or Peggy Hobbs (707) 441-5013.

What do I do when the placement becomes challenging and is negatively affecting my family?

When this feeling sets in, you should contact the social worker and discuss respite or a change in placement.

What type of discipline can I use?

Foster children have rights to live in a safe, healthy, and comfortable home and to be treated with respect.  To be free from physical, sexual, emotional or other abuse, or corporal punishment. To not be locked in a room or placed in a restraining device. California Code of Regulations - Foster Family Homes Regulations, Section 89372

What do I do when the traditional types of discipline don’t work?

You may wonder what: the difference between child discipline and punishment is, how parenting a foster child can be different and challenging when compared to children who have not suffered abuse and neglect, and what are tips for handling challenging foster child behaviors and issues are. For this information and more visit how to be a great foster parent week 4.

Court / Attorneys
When a court date passes, and I don’t hear any updates, how do I find out what happened?

You can call the child’s lawyer or social worker.

How do I communicate with the court?

Any caregiver for a child in the dependency court may provide information to the court regarding the circumstances of the child using JV290 (Caregiver Information Form). This is a fillable form, which can be printed from the site, for the purpose of providing your information to the court. Caregivers should make copies of the completed form for the judge (one for each child as the court keeps a file for each child), each of the parties (attorneys), the social worker, and CASA (if appointed), and go to the County Clerks Office to file the paperwork. Make sure to make a copy for you to keep.This form is in PDF format.

How do I find out who the child’s attorney is?

You can find this information out from the child’s social worker or the child’s CASA advocate.

Can I communicate with the child’s attorney?

Yes, most attorneys are available by phone or email.

Can I attend court dates?

If you are the legal care provider of the child, you can attend the court hearings unless otherwise directed by the court.

How many hearings are there and what are they about?

This will vary by case. The following link has a flow chart to better help you understand the timeline of the court process, as well as, what each hearing is about. Caregivers & the Courts: A Primer on Juvenile Dependency Proceedings for California Foster Parents & Relative Caregivers


These are helpful links:

CASA Educational Advocacy Resources
Foster Youth Services Program
Legal Center & Education Database
What Keeps Children in Foster Care from Succeeding in School?
Special Education Rights & Responsibilities
When Schools Criminalize Disabilities: Strategies for Challenging School Delinquency Petitions
Protection, Advocacy, Inc. Special Education Publications
Who Makes Educational Decisions?: Informational Sheet (PDF) 
Foster Education Fact Sheets 

I want to put my toddler in preschool, but I can’t afford it. Are there any services to assist with preschool?

Foster children qualify for early head start and head start services.

What can I do at the child’s school? Am I expected to be at meetings or is that the parent’s responsibility?

You may sign permission slips for field trips and apply for free and reduced school lunches. However, if the parents still have educational rights, you may not consent to any change in their educational plan which is currently in place; this includes changing them to a new school.  Your presence at school meetings could be very helpful to the teacher and child.

Who is responsible for driving the children to school if they attend a school out of our area?

The social worker is responsible for making sure the child gets to and from school if the child is attending a school outside of the area. School transportation brief.

How can I access prior mental health, medical, and/or educational records?

When children become a ward of the courts, foster parents can access a health and education passport which one can get from the child’s social worker. This has some information that may be beneficial. However, this document may not contain everything due to confidentiality laws.  You can also contact the child's attorney with a specific request for information.

Who do I call if I don’t get my monthly stipend?

As of May 2012, the contact persons for monthly stipends for Humboldt County Child Welfare are:

For last names A - L
Jessica Sallis-Pearson 476-4733

For last names M - Z
Marty Baker 476-4736

Guardianship & Adoption
How do I apply to adopt?

The State of California website answers some questions about the different types of adoptions.

This is another site with information regarding adopting through State Adoptions

Is adopting a child expensive?

The following link provides a wealth of adoption information including cost .

How do I decide if I want to pursue adoption or guardianship?

The Legal Advocates for Permanent Parenting have an excellent resource. The Child Welfare Information Gateway also has information for you to consider. The Kinship Guardian Asistance payment program speaks to eligibilty issues for compensation.

Do I get compensated for adoption?

There is financial assistance which can be applied for if you are adopting a child with or without special needs. There is a Request for Adoption Assistance form which can be filled out to see if eligibility criteria will be met.

Mental Health & Medical Concerns
Who do I call if I don’t have a Medi-Cal card for the child?

As of May 2012, the contact person for Medi-Cal cards for Humboldt County Child Welfare is Marti Baker. 476-4736

What is TBS / TBA services, how do I get them?

Here is a good source of information about Therapeutic Behavioral ServicesHumboldt County contracts out for these services. Contact the social worker, and/or CASA advocate, and/or minor's attorney to request these services for your child.

How do I request a change in counselors at Children Youth and Family Services (CYFS)?

There is a request for change of service provider form.   Fill it out and mail it in.  This link is current as of July 2012.

What do I do if I think the child needs counseling or medical care beyond what is offered? What am I authorized to consent to?

You are not authorized to consent to any medical treatments that are not deemed necessary by a medical doctor.  Contact the social worker, and/or CASA, and/or the minor's attorney.

How can I access prior mental health, medical records, and/or educational records?

When children become a ward of the courts, foster parents can access a health and education passport which one can get from the child’s social worker. This has some information that may be beneficial. However, this document may not contain everything due to confidentiality laws.

What do I do if the child appears to be developing, in any way, slower than the average child?

You should contact the public health nurse and the social worker. As of July 2012, Sharon Miros-Schafle is the public health nurse for foster children and can be contacted at (707) 441-5057. You can request to set up a time for her to come to your home and do a developmental assessment on the child. Based on the results, you may request, or be given, a referral for additional assessments. In addition to this, if the child is receiving in home early head start services, the head start teacher may do the same assessment. These results can then be viewed by the child’s pediatrician. Foster children also qualify for early head start and head start preschool programs.

How do I help my child grieve? What are the stages of grieving?

The following is a web site that has information about what grief looks like and how to work through it.  You can also contact your child's pediatrician/doctor and their social worker if you feel your child may need additional assistance to help them through the process. If your child has a therapist you can contact them directly with your input and concerns.

Do I have to immunize the children if I don’t believe in that?

Due to the fact that the child is a ward of the courts, they must receive their vaccinations. If you are opposed to vaccinations, you can request that the social worker take them to the appointments.

What is a Mental Health Case Manager?

A Mental Health Case Manager is a mental health worker assigned to your child. Their job is to be the liaison with the child's therapist.  Often, a Mental Health Case Manager engages the child in prosocial activities and assist in achieving therapeutic goals.

Obtaining Documents
How do I get a copy of a birth certificate for school enrollment, obtaining a driver’s license, or opening teen bank accounts?

Only the legal guardians can obtain this information. This would mean, the courts or the parents can request these documents. A social worker can also obtain this document.

Who do I call if I don’t have a Medi-Cal card for the child?

As of May 2012, the contact person for Medi-Cal cards for Humboldt County Child Welfare is Marti Baker - (707) 476-4736.

How do I get extra clothing, bedding, backpacks, car seats, etc?

WIC will provide assistance with nutritional food vouchers, special diets, and growth charting for children. 

Car Seats- Humboldt County offers car seat installation classes at no cost to the public. They will provide each income qualifying family attending the training with a car seat for a $20 donation. For more information about upcoming classes, call Humboldt County DHHS Child Passenger Safety Program at (707) 476-4991.

Will anybody help pay for extra curricular activities such as, little league, girl scouts, gymnastics, etc?

Most City Parks and Recreation programs offer scholarships and/or grants for foster youth. Contact the parks and recreations department in your area to find out what they have to offer.

Eureka - Fortuna - Arcata - McKinleyville 

Many organizations offer scholarships for children. Contact the specific organization first. If they don’t have a scholarship program, contact the social worker and ask what they can do.

How do I find out if there are free classes I can attend to help me learn about specific issues relating to my child?

College of the Redwoods provides training classes. If you wish to attend any of the classes, contact Kelly Mendonca. If there are specific topics not offered that you would like to have covered, contact Kelly Mendonca (707) 445-6727, or Peggy Hobbs (707) 441-5013.

What other resources are available in Humboldt County?

There is a Humboldt County Community Resource list that has contact information for many of the available resources. (as of September 2012)

If I am traveling out of state and the parents don’t approve the child going with me, what do I do? Do I have to cancel my trip?

You do not have to cancel your trip! You need to contact your child’s social worker and let them know you need a short term change of placement for your child while you are gone.  You can discuss this with minor's attorney and it can be addressed in court and an order for the child to travel with you can be signed by the judge.

Is there respite? If so, how is respite paid for?

Yes, there is respite. Respite is a term that social workers use if the respite is going to be used as an ongoing situation, for example, the first and third weekend of every month. The county pays the respite family. Note: Your stipend will not reflect reimbursement for the days which you did not have the child in your care.

Can anybody provide respite?

Only a licensed foster home with room for the child may do respite unless CWS approves a non-licensed home.

What’s the difference between respite and babysitting?

You may hire a babysitter (prudent parent standard) for any amount of time under 23 hours. Anything over this requires you to notify the social worker and use only an approved placement. The following website is lengthy, yet has some good info about prudent parent regulations.

Social Services/Social Workers
How do I get a CASA for my child?

Call CASA at 443-3197 and request an advocate.

What kind of support is there?

New Directions of the Humboldt Foster Family Association offers members monthly training, advocacy, support groups, and more. Typically the association meets the second Thursday of each month from 9:30 – 11:30 at St. Bernard’s Elementary School, 255 Henderson Street, Eureka. For more information and to arrange on-site childcare, please contact Rose Baker at 496-6070.

Can I get a mentor?

Foster Parent Mentor Program – During your first year of foster parenting, you may be paired with a more experienced foster parent who will offer guidance. Assignments are done in coordination with College of the Redwoods Foster and Kinship Care Education Program and Child Welfare Services Staff.

Can I file a grievance if I’m not able to work problems out with the social worker?

If you are having an issue with the social worker and you are unable to work it out with them, you may contact there supervisor. If this yields no results and the grievance is regarding the child’s placement, care, and/or services, you may contact the California Ombudsman for Foster Care at 1-877-846-1602.

Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Social Services Branch, Child Welfare Services Division has policies regarding Grievances and Problem Resolution. These policies apply to foster parents; legal parents; guardians; and children concerning the placement or removal of a child from a foster home. Here are PDF format versions of:
the Foster Parent Problem Resolution Policy
the Grievance Review Policy
and the Complaint and Grievance Resolution Request Form

What is a TDM (Team Decison Making), am I invited, should I attend?

These are meetings where all the people and agencies involved in a child and families life meet to discuss what is going on in the child’s life and what the next steps are going to be. These meetings usually take place just before a change in the child’s placement. As the child’s current placement, you are usually invited to these meetings; however, your attendance is not required. A social worker should notify you as to when these meetings are taking place and whether or not you should be attending. In rare circumstances, you may be asked not to attend.

What are Wraparound services, and how do I get them?

You can read about wraparound services. Services offered and provided will vary for each family. If you think you may qualify for these services, talk to your child’s social worker.

Visitation with Biological Parents
If the visits aren’t going well, why are they continuing to happen?

Visitation is ordered by a judge. If you are having concerns surrounding the visits, talk with your child’s social worker, their CASA, and minor's attorney about the nature of your concerns. This being said, if at anytime during a visit that you are supervising, you feel the child is not safe, the visit may be ended and the social worker should be notified immediately as to what actions led to the termination of the visit.

Who is responsible for driving to and supervising visits?

The social workers appreciate any help you are willing to offer, however, the social worker is responsible for making sure the child gets to and from visits and that they are appropriately supervised. You are under no obligation to assist, and if you have reservations about driving to and from, or supervising the visit, let the social worker know why you are not willing to do it.

Do I have to allow phone calls to the child from the parents? Are there rules about phone calls, such as time limits, speaker phone, when to end a call and whether or not they call us or vise versa?

This is an all county bulletin stating children’s telephone access rights. You can discuss this issue with the social worker if you have concerns.

Should I believe what the child's parent tell me? How do I find out what I’m supposed to do with visitation with parents?

Contact and visitation between the parents and child are stipulated by the court and are the responsibility of Social Services. There is nothing that you are supposed to do. If you are unsure of the honesty of the parents, you can ask the social worker or the child’s attorney what the court reports stipulate visitation is for the child.

What is the proper chain of command when I have a concern? What do I do if I can’t reach the social worker?

You should call the social worker first. If there is an emergency and you can’t reach the social worker, you can call their supervisor or the child's attorney. There is also a 24 hour emergency worker on call. 

Who do I talk to about getting my child’s hair cut?

You must get consent from the parents. It is best to get this consent in writing and discuss with them what they want to have done. If you are not in contact with the parent, then the social worker must get this consent from the parents or the courts.

Can I take the child(ren) to my place of worship?

You may take the children with you, but you cannot force them to join or practice your faith.