Requesting a State Hearing
How to Appeal if You are Denied Resource Family Approval
If you have applied for resource family approval and were denied (by either receiving a Notice of Action or no decision at all), you have the right to appeal by requesting an administrative fair hearing with the California Department of Social Services State Hearings Division.
CDSS RFA Written Directives Version 6.0 (Effective 4-11-19) Section 12-01(c) states that "A Resource Parent, applicant, or individual who has received notice of a denial or rescission of approval, notice of a criminal record exemption denial or rescission, or notice of an exclusion, is accorded the right to a state hearing and other due process rights as set forth in this article and in Welfare and Institutions Code section 16519.5 et seq."
CDSS Regulation 22-003.1 provides the right to a state hearing to any claimant dissatisfied with a county action or inaction on a county-administered state aid program, including the resource family approval process.
The child welfare agency must provide you with a written document (known as a Notice of Action – see example form informing you of the county’s action or intended action. If you disagree with the reasoning on the Notice of Action, or you have been unable to obtain a written notice of denial, you have the right to appeal and can do so by requesting an administrative fair hearing.
File a Timely Request for State Hearing
If you choose to appeal the county’s action on your RFA, you have 90 calendar days from the date the Notice of Action was served if you are appealing from a denial of an RFA application or denial of a criminal record exemption.
If the Notice was served by mail, the time to appeal shall be extended five days.
Please refer to CDSS RFA Written Directives on State Hearings (Effective 4-11-19) to confirm the timelines to file your appeal.
If you are beyond the above stated timeframes to request a state hearing, you can still try to request one by showing “good cause” as to why you failed to file your request within the requisite time period. See CDSS Regulation 22-009.
How to File a Request for State Hearing
Advokids' hotline staff has received a number of calls informing us that the CDSS State Hearings Division is experiencing a backlog of RFA related appeals. When making your request for a state hearing, we suggest you make an expedited request to the presiding judge in writing and set forth the reasons why there is good cause to expedite your request. The presiding judge uses discretion and grants expedited requests on a case by case basis.
CDSS RFA Written Directives state that you should request a state hearing to the county that made the adverse decision and that county will notify the State Hearings Division of your hearing request. The CDSS Regulations provide that a request can be made to the county child welfare services agency OR directly to the state.
Information About Your State Hearing
You must be notified about your state hearing request 15 days prior to the hearing date.
A state hearing request must be decided or dismissed within 90 days of the request.
See CDSS Regulation 22-045.3 and Regulation 22-060.1
Once your appeal is received, you will receive a letter assigning your case to a representative from your county (the opposing party in your case). You will receive another letter that lists the date, time, and location of your hearing before the administrative law judge (the neutral fact finder).
You can choose to discuss your case with the county representative before the hearing. Sometimes, the county representative will agree with you and sign a Conditional Withdrawal, which will require the county to correct its earlier decision. This can happen any time before the hearing.
If the county representative does not offer a Conditional Withdrawal in your case, then you should prepare for your hearing. You can pick up your file and the county’s position statement explaining its decision at least two days before the hearing. You can submit your own written position statement any time before the hearing.
State Hearing Procedure: At the fair hearing, you will need to prove that you satisfy the requirements to be approved as a resource family. You should also bring all supporting documentation relevant to your issue and copies of those documents for the judge and county representative. You should bring your position statement and any witnesses or other evidence that shows the county made an error. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will ask questions from you, the county representative, and witnesses from both sides. If you have additional evidence that you want to show the ALJ but that you did not bring with you to the hearing, you can ask to leave the record open, and then submit your evidence as quickly as possible. The ALJ will send you their decision a few months later. See Sections 12-09 through 12-21 of the CDSS RFA Written Directives on State Hearings (Effective 4-11-19)
Burden of Proof: In all proceedings conducted in accordance with Welfare and Institutions Code section 16519.6, the burden of proof on a County or the Department, as applicable, shall be by a preponderance of the evidence. See Section 12-10 of the CDSS RFA Written Directives on State Hearings (Effective 4-11-19)