Requesting a State Hearing
How to Appeal an Adverse Action regarding your Resource Family Approval
If the county has taken an adverse action against your resource family approval (by either denying your application, refusing to grant a criminal record exemption, rescinded your RFA, or another action), you have the right to appeal that adverse action by requesting an administrative fair hearing with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).
The county 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. There should be instructions on your Notice of Action on the process of requesting an appeal (and an office in your county) to send that request to.
Depending on the reasons for denial (listed on your Notice of Action), your appeal will either be under the jurisdiction of the State Hearings Division (SHD) or the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).
Even though you have the right to request an appeal of your county's adverse RFA action directly to the state or county office, at this time, we suggest you follow the instructions on your Notice of Action and make your request through the county.
Right to Appeal an Adverse County Action Regarding RFA (legal authority)
CDSS RFA Written Directives version 6.1 (effective 1-7-20) 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.
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 in Sections 12-09 through 12-21 (effective 1-7-20) 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 (and how to make an expedited request)
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. We are uncertain whether the Office of Administrative Hearings is experiencing a similar backlog.
When making your request for a state hearing (and your appeal is under the jurisdiction of the State Hearings Division as opposed to the Office of Administrative Hearings), we suggest you make an expedited request to the presiding judge in writing after you have submitted your request for a hearing through the county (as per the instructions on your Notice of Action). In your expedited request to the presiding judge, you should consider setting forth the specific 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.
You can make your expedited request by phone, mail, fax or email. Please refer to the contact information for the State Hearings Division below. The email for State Hearings Division, RFA matters is SHDRFA@dss.ca.gov.
Direct Requests to the State Hearings Division (not the Office of Administrative Hearings)
For requests to the State Hearings Division, you can submit your request through the county office listed on your Notice of Action (and that office will refer your request to the State Hearings Division). You can also make a direct request using the following methods listed below. However, please be certain that the jurisdiction of your appeal is with the State Hearings Division and not the Office of Administrative Hearings. Your Notice of Action should indicate which division has jurisdiction.
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
Whether your appeal is being heard by the State Hearings Division or the Office of Administrative Hearings, you will need to prove that you satisfy the requirements to be approved as a resource family.
You should 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 in taking the adverse action against you. 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 CDSS RFA Written Directives Sections 12-09 through 12-21 (effective 1-7-20)
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 CDSS RFA Written Directives Section 12-10 (effective 1-7-20)