Our Vision

    Our vision is to be part of creating a responsible and caring community: Safe, Resilient, and Healthy. We can only reach that vision through collaboration.

    Our Mission Statement

    We partner with the community to enhance self-sufficiency while ensuring that safety and basic human needs are met for the people of San Luis Obispo County.

    Our Guiding Principles

    • We strive to eliminate poverty and abuse
    • We believe all people have strengths
    • We work together to assist in removing barriers and finding solutions
    • We strive to meet the unique needs of each community, family, and individual
    • We commit to fairness and equality

    Devin Drake

    Director

    We believe all children have rights. The right to have enough healthy food to eat each day, to live in safe homes that are free from violence, to have access to medical and dental care. The right to basic needs such as adequate clothing, supplies for schools and personal hygiene and the right to be encouraged and empowered to achieve their dreams.

    Whether your role is to inspire, mentor, teach, guide, coach, advise, serve, nurture or supervise, you have an impact on the lives of the children and families with whom you come in contact. From teachers to store owners, police officers to food service employees, we all have a responsibility to the children who live in our community: a responsibility to speak words of encouragement, a responsibility to model the kind of behavior we hope to see in them, and a responsibility to speak up when we have a concern about a child who is not able to speak for themselves.

    Our vision is to be part of creating a responsible and caring community: Safe, Resilient, and Healthy. We can only reach that vision through collaboration.

    Tracy Schiro

    Assistant Director

    Why We Need You

    When you get involved in the lives of Foster Children and Families, you do more than just contribute your time and talents. You make a lasting investment in the life of a child. You provide the opportunity for a child to feel important and valued.

    As of 12/31/2016, there were 311 children in foster care in San Luis Obispo County and 67 children from San Luis Obispo County placed in foster care homes and facilities outside of the county.  Source: 2017 Foster Care Snapshot Report

    For information on how you can help keep our children in our community and become a Resource Family, please call the Department of Social Services at (805) 781-1705 or attend a Resource Family Information Meeting (see calendar link).

    How You Can Help

    Volunteer/Mentor

    We work with several agencies to promote volunteer and mentoring opportunities
    CASA of San Luis Obispo

    CASA of San Luis Obispo

    Click to open website

    CASA of San Luis Obispo County are advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children within the court system. CASA recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers who advocate for this vulnerable population with the goal of ensuring that each and every child grows up in a safe, nurturing, and permanent home.

    Family Care Network

    Family Care Network

    Click to open website

    Family Care Network believes that each member of the community brings a unique skill, talent, or resource that has the potential to impact the lives of the children and families served by the agency. Whether it is stuffing envelopes in the office, serving food at an event, or mentoring or tutoring a youth, individuals from our community have added tremendously to the agency’s overall success.

    Big Brother Big Sister of San Luis Obispo

    Big Brother Big Sister

    Click to open website

    Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Luis Obispo is a donor and volunteer supported organization to help vulnerable children of single, low-income and/or incarcerated parents. Funding provides for targeted and careful volunteer recruiting, screening and matching, as well as ongoing support for volunteers, children, and families, ensuring child safety and sustaining successful long term relationships with positive outcomes.

    Emergency Shelter and Respite Care

    Have you thought about taking a foster youth into your home, but aren’t sure you are able to do that full time? How about providing occasional Respite Care or short term Emergency Shelter care.

    Respite Care is a wonderful way to serve our youth, and provide much needed respite services to our Resource Families, who are in great need of respite providers. Typically Respite Care is no longer than 24 hours at a time. You can even decide if you would like to provide respite care in your own home, or if you prefer, only in the home of the Resource family.

    Emergency Shelter Care is another opportunity to be a temporary safe harbor for youth removed from their home and it typically for a period of 30 days or less and is exactly what it called. These youth have been removed from their home in an emergency situation.  If family is not quickly located for them to go to we seek out families who are willing to provide that home environment.

    Foster Family Friendly Business

    Foster Family Friendly Businesses provide a small discount on goods and services to local foster families and foster youth to help ease their financial burden. Customers will qualify for a discount by displaying a Foster Family Friendly discount card.

    If you decide to join the Foster Family Friendly Business program, you will receive a FREE window cling (see below) to be displayed in your business.

    Download our current brochure here: Foster Friendly Business Partners.

    If you would like to be recognized as a Foster Family Friendly Business, download our Foster Friendly Business Form, fill in the requested information and send the completed form to our office.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Sponsor An Activity

    The Youth Enrichment Program is designed to provide opportunities for foster youth to participate in fun, educational, and engaging, extra-curricular activities.  These activities depend on the businesses involved and could vary from sporting events to arts & crafts, a day at the zoo, live theater or cooking classes. Our goal is to coordinate these activities once a month.

    We are also coordinating individual activities for youth, in partnership with our community. These could be on-going activities like music lessons or self defense classes or a one-time activity like a sporting event.

    If you would like to become part of our Foster Youth Enrichment Program, download our Foster Youth Enrichment Program Form, fill in the requested information and send the completed form to our office.

    Options For Recovery and Specialized Homes

    Do you have any specialized skills or a passion to help youth who have specialized needs, or may have had exposure to drugs and/or alcohol during pregnancy? Do you know of someone who has struggled with mental health or behavioral challenges and wish to use that knowledge and experience? Becoming an Options for Recovery home (OFR), or a Specialized home may be a good choice for you.

    Becoming an OFR Home is a wonderful opportunity to care for youth who may have been exposed to drugs and/or alcohol during pregnancy, and may require additional support.  For those of you that enjoy mentoring others, the OFR program is designed for the biological family to work with the OFR home, and for the OFRR home to provide mentoring and much needed supports to the biological family.

    Specialized Homes are an opportunity to provide a higher level of care to youth with specialized needs, whether it is developmental or emotional,  or both. Providing a home for youth with specialized needs is both challenging and incredibly rewarding.

    Additional Support: If you choose to be an OFR or a Specialized Home, additional training and resources are provided to you at no cost.  It is our goal to find a home for every child in our community, as well as provide our resource families the support they need to take care of these youth.

    Click on button below to view available resources for Resource Parents and Resource Family Training.

    Resources: Resource Parents

    Foster Care Overview

    When children come into foster care, they have often experienced some form of trauma. These children are in need of someone who will love them, support them, and keep them safe during the time that their own parents are unable to do so.

    The goal for Child Welfare Services, with the help and support of Resource Families, is to help families successfully reunify. When reunification is not possible, we seek families who can continue to provide a safe, nurturing, permanent home for these children.

    Click button below to download A Home for Every Child brochure.

    A Home for Every Child

    Foster Care

    What is Extended Foster Care?

    Foster youth will be able to maintain a safety net of support while experiencing independence in a secure and supervised living environment. Extended time as provided in the “non-minor dependent’ status can assist youth in becoming better prepared for successful transition into adulthood and self-sufficiency through education and employment training opportunities. By participating in Extended Foster Care, you can continue to receive their monthly foster care payment, housing assistance, and case management.

    Who can use this Resource?

    • Foster youth 18 to 21 years old.

    At the six month hearing prior to youth’s 18th birthday, the social worker/probation officer must have a plan to ensure the youth meets at least ONE of the following criteria:

    1. Completing high school or equivalent program (e.g. GED); OR
    2. Enrolling in college, community college or a vocational education program; OR
    3. Employed at least 80 hours a month; OR
    4. Participating in a program designed to promote or remove barriers to employment; OR
    5. Unable to do one of the above requirements because of a medical condition.

    To find you if you are eligible; call your assigned social worker. If you have already exited foster care and are interested in entering extended foster care, call our intake hotline at 805-781-5437 or expand the Resources menu item then click on Foster Youth.

    Extended Foster Care services are free. Foster Youth in the program will receive payments, housing assistance, and case management.

    Please call (805) 781-781-5437 or 805-781-1700 for more information.

    What is Family Finding?

    Family Finding is a practice using a variety of methods and strategies to identify and engage relatives and other supportive adults, estranged from or unknown to children who have been removed from his or her parents and temporarily placed in foster care with San Luis Obispo County Department of Social Services.

    The goals of Family Finding are to minimize the disruption and disconnection of the children from those they love and trust and to provide each child with the life-long connections that only a family can offer.

    What is a Resource Family?

    Resource Family is the new term California applies to caregivers who provide out-of-home care for children in Foster Care.

    Resource families include individuals, couples and families. They may be related to the child, have a familiar or mentoring relationship with the child, or no previous relationship with the child. The term Resource Family is now used to describe all types of caregivers, rather than the various terms of Foster Parent, Adoptive Parent, Relative, or Non-Related Extended Family Member.

    Resource Families play a critical role in the life of children in out of home care. When out-of-home placement is needed to keep the child safe, Child Welfare Services (CWS) makes diligent efforts to identify, evaluate and consider relatives, family friends and those closely tied to the child as the primary placement option. If a relative or other close adult cannot be located, CWS makes efforts to place the children with an already approved Resource Family that is able to keep them connected with their community and culture. Resource Families work together with CWS staff and the child’s family to successfully return the child to their parents.

    As of November 1, 2013, all Resource Families are approved up front to be a potential adoptive home if the family and the Department agree adoption is in the best interest of the children. Approval up front as an adoptive home does not obligate you to adopt the children placed in your care. The decision to adopt is a complex one that must take into consideration the needs of both the family and the child. If you are interested in adoption, speak with your assigned Social Worker and he/she will work with you to determine if adoption of the child placed in your care will be part of the child’s case plan.

    What are the steps to become a Resource Family?

    1. Make initial Contact with Department at (805) 781-1705 to receive an Information Packet.
    2. Enroll in RFT classes. RFT classes must be completed before home approval can be given.
    3. Work with your assigned home approval Social Worker to complete all required paper work, evaluations, and training. Your Social Worker will work closely with you each step of the way.

    What is Resource Family Training (RFT)?

    Resource Family Training (RFT) is a Parent’s Resource for information, development and education. RFT is the educational component in the Resource Family Approval process. RFT is 5 days of classes that include:

    • Application documents
    • Health
    • CPR training
    • Background
    • Interactive panels of birth parents
    • Department staff presentations
    • Community partner presentations

    RFT is designed to strengthen the quality of Resource Caregivers by providing a framework for understanding how to work with the Department of Social Services, and how to care for children who have experienced trauma.

    This series of classes must be completed in order for the Resource Family Approval process to continue.

    Click on button below to download the Resource Family Training Schedule.

    Resource Family Training Schedule

    Adoption

    What is Adoption?

    Adoption is a legal process which permanently gives parental rights to adoptive parents. Adoption means taking a child into your home as a permanent family member and caring for and guiding children through their growing years and beyond. Adoption means providing them the love and understanding they need to develop their full potential.

    Before a child can be placed in your home, Federal and State law requires that Department of Social Services approve your home so that you can become a Resource Parent.

    What is a Resource Parent?

    Resource Parents provide a substitute family life experience to children in our community who, for a temporary period of time, cannot be with their own families.

    Resource Parents provide approved homes that offer stable, positive home environments for infants, children and teens, who for various reasons are unable to live with their family.

    Resource Parents are professional parents who enjoy parenting and are willing to share their home, time, energy, and love with children who cannot remain safely in their own home because of abuse or neglect.

    As of November 1, 2013, all Resource Parents are approved up front to be a potential adoptive home if the family and department agree adoption is in the best interest of the children. Approval up front as an adoptive home does not obligate you to adopt the children placed in your care. The decision to adopt is a complex one that must take into consideration the needs of both the family and the child. If you are interested in adoption, speak with your assigned Social Worker and he/she will work with you to determine if adoption of the child placed in your care will be part of the child’s case plan.

    What are the steps to become a Resource Parent?

    1. Make initial Contact with Department at (805) 781-1705 to receive an Information Packet.
    2. Enroll in RFT classes. RFT classes must be completed before home approval can be given.
    3. Work with your assigned home approval Social Worker to complete all required paper work, evaluations and training. Your Social Worker will work closely with you each step of the way.

    What is Resource Family Training (RFT)?

    Resource Family Training (RFT) is a Parent’s Resource for information, development and education. RFT is the educational component in the Resource Family Approval process. RFT is 5 days of classes that include:

    • Application documents
    • Health
    • CPR training
    • Background
    • Interactive panels of birth parents
    • Department staff presentations
    • Community partner presentations

    RFT is designed to strengthen the quality of Resource Caregivers by providing a framework for understanding how to work with the Department of Social Services, and how to care for children who have experienced trauma.

    This series of classes must be completed in order for the Resource Family Approval process to continue.

    Click on button below to download the Resource Family Training Schedule.

    Resource Family Training Schedule

    Child Welfare Services

    What is Child Welfare Services?

    Child Welfare Services includes a broad spectrum of programs that serve to protect the children in our community from abuse and neglect.

    Child Welfare Services’ first priority is to help parents find ways to keep their child safe in his or her own home with services and/or supervision when possible and appropriate. If the child cannot remain safely in his/her home then Child Welfare Services will work to identify a home where the child can live while his/her parents work toward reunification.

    Where do Children go when they cannot stay in their home?

    The first preference is to locate a relative or other adult with whom the child has a close relationship. Anyone who wishes to provide care for a foster child is required to complete the Resource Family approval process (see FAQ: What is a Resource Family?).

    If a relative or other close adult cannot be located, the child will be placed in the home of a family who has already completed the approval process. These are families that have a desire to provide a supportive home for children in need.

    What is Reunification?

    Reunification occurs when a child who has been removed from the home of his/her parents is able to return home after all safety concerns have been addressed and the Court agrees that Child Welfare Services no longer needs to be involved with the family.

    The primary goal of Child Welfare Services is to reunify children with their family as quickly as possible. Child Welfare Services is committed to providing birth families with the resources, training and support they need to make the changes required in order to reunify with their children. The length of time a family can work toward reunification varies greatly depending on the age of the child, specific family circumstances, and any previous involvement with Child Welfare Services.

    Each family will work with their assigned Social Worker to develop a reunification plan that outlines what the expectation of the family is, and what type of services will be provided and how long they will be provided for.

    Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

    What is Child Abuse?

    Child abuse and neglect, as defined in the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), includes: physical abuse, sexual abuse (including both sexual assault and sexual exploitation), willful cruelty or unjustified punishment, unlawful corporal punishment or injury, and neglect (including both acts and omissions).

    What is a Mandated Reporter?

    Mandated reporters are individuals who are mandated by law to report known or suspected child maltreatment. They are primarily people who have contact with children through their employment. Such individuals may include:

    • Social workers
    • Teachers, principals, and other school personnel
    • Physicians, nurses, and other health-care workers
    • Counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals
    • Child care providers
    • Medical examiners or coroners
    • Law enforcement officers

    Click on button below to navigate to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) list of Mandatory Reporters.

    CDSS Mandatory Reporters

    How do I report Suspected Child Abuse?

    If you are not a mandated reporter, you can call the 24-hour Child Abuse Reporting Hotline at 805-781-KIDS (5437) or 1-800-834-5437.

    Remember, reporting your concerns is not making an accusation; rather, it is a request for an investigation and assessment to determine if help is needed. The identity of those who have reported suspected child abuse is kept confidential.

    As a mandated reporter of child abuse in San Luis Obispo County, if you suspect child abuse or neglect, YOU MUST:
    1. Immediately call Child Welfare Services (CWS) 24-Hour Child Abuse Reporting Hotline at 805-781-KIDS (5437) or 1-800-834-KIDS.
    2. Complete and file this report: Suspected Child Abuse Report (SCAR) Form 8572. The Social Worker you speak with when calling the CWS hotline will inform you where to fax/email the SCAR form.
    3. Retain a legible copy of the SCAR Report YOU are responsible for making this report. DO NOT ALLOW your supervisor/principal to make the report for you or assume because another co-worker has some of the same information that they will make the report.
    4. Do not attempt to investigate, conduct interviews or interfere with the information you hold.
    5. Remember that you are to report SUSPECTED abuse – you are not required to have witnessed or have complete proof of the incident. You are obligated by law to report what you observe or what you are told that caused suspicion the child is being physically, sexually or emotionally abused or neglected.

    When in doubt, call CWS and get their input about the scope of your report.

    Our Community Partners

    County of San Luis Obispo Partners

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