Why this website was created

Being in foster care can be upsetting and confusing. This website is meant to be a place where you can learn about the rights you have in foster care. You will find helpful information and answers to many questions you might have. If there are words or terms you don’t understand, you can find their definitions here.

What is the Child Welfare System?

Family with mom, dad, and son smiling at camera

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Probation Department are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of youth in LA county. To do this, DCFS investigates reports of child abuse and neglect. If the investigation shows that abuse or neglect did take place, a social worker or probation officer will work with the youth and their family to create a case plan. The case plan includes the services that are needed to stop the abuse or neglect and prevent it from happening again. Often, the youth and their family can receive services while the youth is living at home, but when there are concerns about the youth’s safety, they may need to be taken out of the home and placed in foster care. If the youth does need to be in foster care for a while, the goal of the case plan is to help the family ‘reunify’ or get back together as soon as possible.

What is Foster Care?

Foster care is where youth live while their parents are working on fixing safety concerns. Youth who are in foster care have a social worker or probation officer that will help them find a safe home—with a relative, a foster parent (resource family), or, if they need certain services, a Short-term Residential Therapeutic Program (STRTP). Where youth live while they are in foster care is sometimes called a placement. The people they live with at the placement are responsible for taking care of them and making sure their rights are not violated. Youth who are in foster care also have a lawyer who is there to tell the judge and other people what they want and need to be healthy and safe.

Two people hugging sitting on bed

Who helped to create this website?

This website was made possible through the collaboration of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles County Commission for Children & Families, Los Angeles County Department of Children & Family Services, California Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson, and many stakeholders across California. We believe that empowering foster youth with information about their rights and services will create safer and more secure futures for all foster youth in Los Angeles County and across California.