All children being considered for physical custody removal from the parent based on criminal charges and placement in an out-of-home facility must be assessed by our multidisciplinary team, the Interagency Placement Review Committee (IPRC). IPRC is composed of Probation, Human Services Agency (link to HSA), Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (link to BHRS), San Mateo County Office of Education (link to COE) and other members as determined. IPRC is charged with approval or denial of a recommendation for out–of-home placement (General Placement Order) for both in and out-of-state placements. IPRC further approves the level of care (RCL) most appropriate for the treatment and support services required to best meet the needs of a youth and family.

Should out-of-home placement be ordered by the Judge, the case is transferred to the Placement Unit, for a Deputy Probation Officer to match a youth’s individual needs to the most appropriate out-of-home placement. The Deputy Probation Officer has a broad base of knowledge of the range of placements approved for use by San Mateo County Probation as certified by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).


Once the child has been placed out of the home, the case is transferred to a Deputy Probation Officer who is assigned to the Placement Unit. These Deputy Probation Officers are responsible for the supervision and case management of youth in a wide variety of out-of-home placements. The Probation Department currently utilizes the services of approximately 30 licensed out-of-home placements. The types of placements include relative and non-relative homes, group homes, residential substance abuse treatment programs, dual diagnosis treatment programs, residential treatment programs for juvenile sex offenders and/or victims of sexual abuse, residential programs for teen mothers, a high level facility for youth with severe emotional disturbance, and out of state programs that serve unique treatment needs when no suitable placement programs exist in California.

Placement Deputy Probation Officers monitor placements to assure they are in compliance with State and Federal regulations. Deputy Probation Officers are responsible for ensuring that the safety and well-being of the youth are being provided for and treatment needs are being met. Each youth in placement is required to appear before the Court every six months for review. A report is prepared by the Deputy Probation Officer to address current progress or lack thereof in placement and in the home.

Placement Deputy Probation Officers are responsible for maintaining monthly face-to-face supervision/counseling with the youth while in out-of-home placement as well as monthly visits with their parents/guardians in an effort to support reunification. A comprehensive case plan is completed and signed by the youth, parent/guardian and Probation and this is continually updated. Deputy Probation Officers work in close collaboration with placements, treatment staff and community resources. They provide consequences for serious misbehavior occurring in the placement as well as supporting and encouraging youth to stay on track. All health and education information is tracked via collaboration with Public Health, the San Mateo County Office of Education, and Human Services Agency and entered into a Health and Education Passport. All youth over the age of 15½ will have a Transition Independent Living Plan to develop the skills and resources necessary to become independent, whether emancipated or as an adult. They will attend an Independent Living Program and, if a former foster youth, may be eligible for support services for housing, work, training and education. A team decision-making meeting is held with a youth and parent prior to a youth leaving their out-of-home placement. Future programs and services are explained and resources identified for each youth.

Placement Aftercare

The first six months following reunification with the family is often a significant challenge for the youth and family as new skills and behavior are being applied at home. There is significant risk of relapse or return to unacceptable behavior, which could result in a return to an out-of-home placement. Placement Unit Deputy Probation Officers provide intensive support and supervision services to the youth and his/her family during that critical transition period. They maintain frequent case contact with the youth and family and work collaboratively with mental health workers, school personnel and other community based resources in order to structure and implement a program which will support a positive transition to home and the community. The duration of the aftercare supervision is generally six months, with the ability to extend that supervision longer if the case needs so dictate.

If you have questions about a court case, contact the San Mateo County Courts.
If you want to know which Probation Officer is assigned to your case, call (650) 312-8807.


How long will my child be placed out of the home?

There is no set time that a child will be in out-of-home placement. However, current California state laws require DPO’s to work with the child and family to reunify the family within six to nine months, or earlier when appropriate. The length of stay is determined by a number of factors being taken into consideration, including :the needs of the child and their family, the child’s risk level to the community and if treatment services have been completed. This time can be extended or shortened based on the progress of the child and the family. Court review hearings are set every six-months from the time the child is given a placement order.  At the hearings, the child’s progress in placement is assessed.  Parents need to attend to attend their child’s Court hearings to aid in family reunification efforts. The parents may also receive a copy of the probation report.

How do you choose where my child will be placed?

Placements are referred to as Short-Term Residential Treatment Programs (STRTP’s) and are chosen with the needs of the family and the child in mind. There are a number of STRTP’s that the Placement DPO may choose from that offer different programs, and are located in different areas of the state.. STRTP’s serve children with specific treatment needs, including: substance abuse, varying mental health issues, anger management, self-harming behaviors.  STRTP’s also provide trauma-informed services, academic support, and individual, group and family therapy.  , etc). For more information, please contact your child’s Placement DPO once your child has received an out-of-home placement order. 

Are the placements monitored?

Yes. All placements are monitored and licensed by the State of California. If any problems arise at a placement, this is brought to the attention of the State and dealt with in a timely manner.

What are my visitation rights?

Each placement has its own standards. The assigned Placement DPO will providemore information regarding visitation once a placement has been identified., Please consult with your child’s Placement DPO.

How is placement paid for?

Parents are not financially responsible for placement related costs pursuant to California Senate Bill-190.