Celebrating the Work You Do: Alternative Family Services

Celebrating the Work You Do

About Alternative Family Services

Alternative Family Services provides thoughtful, informed foster care, adoption, and mental health, transition age youth, and juvenile restorative justice services across 19 counties in the Greater Bay and Sacramento areas. Since 1978, the AFS mission is to support vulnerable children and families in need of stability, safety, and well-being in communities through foster care, adoption, and mental health services.

Alternative Family Services Philosophy

The mission of Alternative Family Services is to support vulnerable children and families in need of stability, safety and wellbeing in their communities.


AFS supports families, children and youth in foster, adoptive and extended families settings morally, materially, therapeutically and educationally. The AFS clinical model is, at heart, a highly individualized social support model.


Their clients are typically not those with sufficient economic resources to successfully address the trauma and family disruption that have befallen them. They direct their efforts towards those who are most vulnerable, lacking the economic, social and/or political means necessary to achieve stability, safety and wellbeing without outside support.

Children and Families

The recipients of their efforts are not just children, but also, significantly, their biological, foster, adoptive and extended families as well. To thrive, children need families as their key source of nurturance. In order to provide this nurturance, the families themselves need supportive interactions among their members and with the surrounding environment.

Stability, Safety and Wellbeing

The object of all child welfare services is stability, safety and wellbeing. They strive to be inclusive of the concept of children growing up in “forever families” (permanence) as well as the more generally understood meaning of a stable family life – free from neglect, abuse, trauma and violence.


As children are in families, families are in communities. Their work must be sensitive to the social context. As every child and family is unique, so is every community. They always aim to be knowledgeable and heedful of the distinctive characteristics of the cultures and communities in which their children and families are embedded.

Alternative Family Services Programs

Foster Care Services

Since 1978, AFS has been providing foster care services to approximately 1500 youth and families annually throughout Northern California. AFS is committed to providing healing and equitable care to families, children, siblings, and teens in care. Becoming a resource parent (formerly known as foster parent) is an enormously rewarding experience and can change the trajectory of a youth’s life.

Adoption Services

For many Northern California families hoping to adopt, providing a forever home to a child, siblings, or teen in care is more compelling than private adoptions. At AFS, fost-adopt is a core program whose professional staff guide families through the adoption process. We believe all children deserve a family—no matter their age. Their mission and passion are to bring youth and parents together to become families.

Mental Health Services

AFS provides family-centered and community-based services designed to meet the mental health needs of children, teens, and families involved with foster care, adoptions, and juvenile probation. AFS collaborates with biological and foster parents, child welfare workers, foster care support staff, schools, and community providers to ensure quality health care services when addressing the mental health needs of children, youth, and families.

Transition Age Youth

The AFS Transition Age Youth (TAY) programs at AFS offer a broad range of services to a diverse population. Some clients have significant mental health issues due to the trauma they have experienced often including histories of neglect and abuse. Services are culturally appropriate, highly individualized, flexible and creatively responsive. AFS helps young people cope with immediate practical issues like employment, education, and financial literacy as well as deeper, emotional life issues like drug use, mental health issues, homelessness and sexual exploitation.

Restorative Justice Program

AFS is recently launched their new juvenile restorative justice program, Family Homes for Youth, in partnership with the City and County of San Francisco. For eligible youth entering justice system, the Family Homes for Youth pilot program provides highly responsive, short-term emergency and long-term placement options in culturally responsive, family settings, all within a strengths-based, trauma-informed treatment framework. 

Alternative Family Services & Exym Behavioral Health EHR Software

Exym EHR software is proud to support Alternative Family Services and their mission by providing reliable, customizable EHR software that keeps their data safe and secure. Simone West from Alternative Family Services said of Exym “Exym supports AFS by keeping our foster care client date safe and optimized for compliance to keep our organization running and our client’s privacy secured.  Exym has been a great partner of AFS. The Exym team offers personalized customer service and a reliable EHR system.

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