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What is a relative or close family member do when Child Welfare removes  a minor child from his or her parents? Do Relatives have rights? Do close family friends have rights?


When a child is removed from his or her home, Child Welfare must find a safe residence for the child to reside. Residence can include a receiving home (for a short time period), foster home, a group home, placement with a relative, and/or placement with a NRFM.

A NRFM is an adult who is a close friend who is known and trusted by the family. A relative includes, but is not limited to, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or an adult sibling.

A NRFM includes, but is not limited to, a close family friend, a coach or teacher, and/or a longtime caregiver. An experienced attorney can assist in this esoteric process.

California law provides that relatives and NRFMs are to have a preference for placements. However, the preference is not automatic. The relative or NRFM must come forward shortly after the removal to make the request for placement. It is best that this request is done via a written record, such as an email to social workers a formal request for placement made at a court hearing (with a request for the placement request to be reflected in the Minutes for the Hearing).

The placement preference is NOT a guarantee of placement. The preference if placement by a friend or close family member is a directive that CPS evaluate and consider them for placement before other homes (such as a group home or a foster home).

The process is often called “RFA” and can be conducted on an emergency basis. However, an Emergency RFA will not be granted to an individual who has any criminal or child welfare history. Emergency RFA can only be granted for individuals who reside in San Diego County. Other criteria also apply.

The evaluation is conducted by the CWS Placement Unit, and includes a through background check with criminal record search, fingerprinting and entry of records into a national database, in person viewing of home with analysis of safety of the child in home, background evaluation of all individuals residing in home, study of the bond between the person who requests placement and the family, the ability of placement request or to help facilitate visitation between the child and parents, and numerous other factors.

It is also important that a relative or NRFM seeking placement, have some visits with the minor, following the removal. However, this can often be a struggle because relatives and NRFM’s have no legal right to visitation.


A skilled attorney can help you navigate this process and ensure you are rightfully considered and evaluated. Minella Law Group can help, consulting with an experienced family law attorney who understands the issues can help alleviate your worries, contact us today for a complimentary consultation.


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