Foster Care Services and Support

In California alone, close to 56,000 children are in foster care right now – and at least a third of them will spend over a year in foster care. By becoming a Resource Parent, you have the opportunity to give foster youth in your community the love, care, attention and support they need and deserve as they go through this dramatic and stressful period in their lives. You won’t regret this simple act of opening your home to foster youth in need – the vast majority of Resource Parents have warm, close relationships with the foster youth they generously bring into their lives, and just about every one would do it again.

AFS has been providing foster care services since 1978, working with approximately 1,500 children in foster care today throughout the Bay Area and the Greater Sacramento Area. We are committed to helping children and youth in the foster care system by providing critical resources that are saving lives.

Understanding the Foster Care System

In situations in which county or state officials determine a child’s biological parent or current home setting to be unsuitable for their needs or unlivable, a judge may place a child into a foster home. These care programs are typically temporary, but are sometimes permanent. At this juncture, youth may be placed in the care of either a relative or an approved non-relative (a.k.a. a foster parent or Resource Parent).

In order to become a Resource Parent and be able to accept foster care placements, prospective foster families must complete the foster application process and be accredited by the state. Part of this accreditation includes passing a home inspection and completing a regimented training program. For more information about becoming a Resource Parent, be sure to check out our guide on the topic.

Social Services Available to Foster Care Placements

AFS provides a wide variety of services before, during and after a child has entered foster care. These social services are designed to account for a wide variety of needs that youth in the foster care system face.

AFS offers three foster care programs which are built upon what AFS calls the Extended Family Model:

The model develops a rich network of supports for foster families and their foster children connecting every AFS family through an extended family network to the community at large. By supporting foster parents and building social supports, the Extended Family Model maximizes a child’s opportunity to develop healthy relationships with adults and peers within a family and the community.

AFS also provides a wide variety of mental health services and support for foster youth. All children and youth served by Alternative Family Services are learning how to cope with the events that precipitated their coming into foster care. Every foster child endures a different level of personal grief and trauma with the loss caused by the separation from their family.

Benefits of Becoming Foster Families

Why allow foster children and youth into your home? Becoming foster parents is an enormously rewarding experience that benefits you, children in foster care and your community at large.

Foster youth face enormous challenges, both in the present and the future. Many struggle in school, and find themselves afflicted by debilitating mental health concerns. As a result, many former foster youth deal with addiction, homeless, joblessness and other significant problems later in life.

But, by opening your home today and providing a loving and supportive home to a child in need, you can give youth in the foster care system a new lease on life.

Interested in becoming an accredited Resource Parent? Be sure to start your application today!

In instances where reunification with biological relatives is not possible, AFS also provides a wide variety of adoption services and support to help foster youth find forever homes. Be sure to check out our Adoption Services page for more information.

Foster Care Services FAQs

Does AFS provide services and support in Spanish?

AFS offers all foster care services in English and Spanish. Many AFS foster families are bilingual or speak only Spanish in the home. We refer to all of our Spanish language foster care services as Casas con Corazón, or Homes with Heart.

What is a Resource Parent?

A Resource Parent is an accredited individual that has been approved by state and local officials to care for foster youth. While a foster parent can only care for foster youth, a Resource Parent is certified to serve youth in a wider variety of capacities, including as a foster parent and as an adoptive parent if desired.

Where does AFS work?

We currently only accept applications from those living in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sacramento, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Solano and Sonoma Counties. If you live outside of these counties but are interested in becoming a Resource Parent, feel free to reach out and we’d be happy to connect you with an appropriate organization in your area.

How does AFS support foster families?

AFS caseworkers and staff members provide a wide variety of services designed to assist and support both foster youth but also their families. AFS also provides numerous training programs to help foster families achieve accreditation and provide the highest levels of support to foster youth in their homes.

Where do I turn if I have questions about the application process?

We’re happy to help with any questions you may have. You can call us at 800-300-1022 or email us at with any questions you may have, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.