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About Alternative Family Services

Alternative Family Services provides thoughtful, informed foster care, adoption, mental health, transition aged youth, and juvenile restorative justice services across 19 counties in the Greater Bay and Sacramento areas of Northern California. Since 1978, the Alternative Family Services mission has been 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.


Alternative Family Services 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.


Alternative Family Services clients are not typically those with sufficient economic resources to successfully address the trauma and family disruption that have befallen them. AFS directs 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. Alternative Family Services strives 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. Alternative Family Services' work must be sensitive to the social context. As every child and family is unique, so is every community. AFS always aims 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, Alternative Family Services has provided 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 teens in care is more compelling than private adoptions. Alternative Family Services is committed to its fost-adopt program, which is led by a team of dedicated professionals who guide families through the adoption process. Their unwavering belief is that every child, regardless of age, deserves a loving family. Their ultimate mission and passion lie in bringing together youth and parents to form forever 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. Alternative Family Services collaborates with biological and resource parents, child welfare workers, foster care support staff, schools, and community providers to ensure quality care services when addressing the mental health needs of children, youth, and families.

Transition Age Youth

The Alternative Family Services Transition Age Youth (TAY) programs 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 substance use, mental health issues, homelessness and sexual exploitation.

Restorative Justice Program

Alternative Family Services 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 the 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. 

"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."

-Simone West, Alternative Family Services

Would you like to support Alternative Family Services and the important work they’re doing? Click below!


Exym is a comprehensive EHR software solution designed specifically for behavioral health agencies. Trusted for 20+ years, our intuitive and customizable software empowers providers to improve client outcomes, manage revenue cycles, and increase agency efficiency. Exym allows you to spend more time on what matters most- the clients in your care.

If you're interested in learning more about Exym, visit our Foster Care Providers page, or our Clinical page. You can also book a demo and speak to a live Exym expert who can answer all of your questions.

Jessica Carey
Post by Jessica Carey
May 30, 2023