About Alternative Family Services

About Alternative Family Services

Alternative Family Services (AFS) is made up of a diverse and compassionate community of staff, board members, resource parents, corporate/community partners, and financial supporters that work together to help youth in care reclaim their sense of possibilities within safe, stable, and caring environments.

AFS is a foster, adoption, mental health, and training agency that has been creating safe, permanent connections for foster children and youth in Northern California since 1978. The agency serves the diverse and varied needs of approximately 1,500 foster youth, plus their biological and foster families in Northern California.

AFS is a rich tapestry comprised of diverse staff, foster, adoptive and biological families, volunteers, and community partners. We celebrate diversity, equal opportunity, and excellence. AFS employs about 230 staff members from more than 12 countries, with education ranging from high school graduates to PhDs, to provide a wide range of foster, adoption, mental health, transition-aged youth, and training services in English and Spanish.

History of Alternative Family Services

huckleberry house staff circa 1973 - alternative family services

AFS Timeline PDF

Alternative Family Services originally started in 1973 as a project within Huckleberry House, the San Francisco runaway shelter. Jay Berlin was hired to start and manage the Alternative Living Program (ALP), a Huckleberry foster care program that created "alternative" living situations for teenage clients who had no viable, non-abusive family to live with.

Jay had a vision of expanding ALP into a program that would support the whole family. With Huckleberry's blessing, on July 1, 1978, with kids, foster families and staff in tow, the now newly renamed Alternative Family Services opened its door for business.

AFS’ successful history, now spanning over four decades, would not have been possible without the selfless generosity of the original visionaries at Huckleberry House, the dozens of volunteer board members, innumerable staff members and thousands of foster parents, respite workers and volunteers. All of these folks not only helped kids directly, but they also left their mark in the ongoing development of our values and practices moving forward.