Alternative Family Services

The Mission of Alternative Family Services is to support vulnerable children and families in need of stability, safety, and well-being in communities.

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Address: 8795 Folsom Blvd #101
Sacramento, CA 95826
County or Parish: Sacramento
Executive Director: Jay Berlin
Contact Email:
Primary Phone: 510-759-1271
AFS History of Accomplishments: In 1973, AFS founder/CEO, Jay Berlin, was hired to start a foster care program for a non-profit runaway shelter in San Francisco. There were a significant number of teenage clients who did not have a non-abusive family to return to. Jay had a vision of creating a foster care program that supported both foster youth AND their families.

On July 1, 1978 with kids, foster families and staff in tow, Alternative Family Services opened its door for business. Initially, the program served only older teenagers, but over the years, the ages of our young clients ranged from 0 to 24 and in some cases beyond. Over the years, AFS has added a host of other services to meet client's needs. The agency has become one of the largest and most reputable foster care and mental health agencies in Northern California.

AFS has provided safe and stable homes for thousands of foster youth ages 0-24 through the following certified programs (AFS is accredited by the Council on Accreditation):
- Foster Care
- Family Alternatives for Children with Developmental Disabilities (FACDD)
- Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC)
- Transition Aged Youth (TAY)
- Respite

Mental Health Services
AFS specializes in providing two forms of mental health services to foster youth and families:
1. Outpatient Community Based Mental Health Services
2. Therapeutic Visitation

The Gathering Place: A collaboration among AFS, Alameda County Social Services Agency and Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services to provide a safe, home-like environment where biological parents and youth who have been separated participate in one of three levels of visitation services that teach family living skills so that children may return to their families.
- Adoption Services
- Fost-Adopt
- Adoption Conversion
The lives of foster youth are disproportionately marked by violence. Compared to their peers AND other at-risk populations, foster youth are at the HIGHEST RISK of: - Being involved in violent behavior as a victim or perpetrator - Homelessness, incarceration or both - Developing addictions and having chronic mental / physical illness - Entering prostitution, becoming human traffic victims or early teen pregnancies Our top needs: 1. Funding: Unrestricted - AFS uses unrestricted funds to provide critical services and resources including: violence intervention, education & prevention, tutoring, therapeutic supplies and 1-on-1 therapeutic intervention. The physical, mental and/or sexual abuse and neglect plus the traumatic consequences of being separated from family cannot be understated when considering the above outcomes and the importance of the unfunded critical needs and services that will help make foster youth constructive, independent members of their communities. 2. Funding: Program - Foster youth have few advantages in life and don't benefit from much of what many children take for granted-the opportunity to go to summer camp, participate in sports, receive after school tutoring, learn an instrument, learn art etc. Further, many of these children don't even have athletic shoes to wear during recess, and when taken from their homes in the middle of the night they many times have to leave their personal items behind. Holidays and birthdays are particularly difficult. During a stressful and scary time, the process of entering a foster home, and then live with virtual strangers can be very challenging and the integration puts pressure on both the child and the foster parents. At AFS we believe in providing children with those items and experiences that enrich their lives, to provide and give them access to opportunities for bonding with their foster or adoptive family, and to help provide some aspect of normalcy and safety that most of us take for granted. This could include such things as tutoring lessons, athletic wear, summer camp, movie tickets for family bonding, holiday and birthday gifts, school supplies etc. AFS has a $480,000 goal to provide children with these enrichment opportunities. 3. Technology - AFS must use grants, financial and in-kind donations to upgrade all of its technology needs to make sure all staff and client needs are met. 4. Board Members - AFS is always looking out for professional individuals who have a passion to help foster youth and actively participate in governing and advancement. 5. In-Kind Donations - AFS is always in need of: - New backpacks - Gift cards for the needs of older foster youth
"AFS' successful history, now spanning over four decades, would not have been possible at all without the selfless generosity countless people including the original visionaries at Huckleberry House, dozens of volunteer board members, innumerable staff 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.

The AFS clinical model is one of social support. The magic and the healing for children happens 24/7 in their foster and adoptive homes. The child's first line of stability and support are the foster/adoptive parents. The main responsibility of our casework staff is to support the families - to be there for them day or night, whenever they are needed.

Jay Berlin
Founder, Executive Director
Alternative Family Services
-- Jay Berlin, Founder/CEO