Department of Social Services

Foster Care

What is Foster Care?

Children involved with Child Welfare Services (CWS) may enter foster care due to abuse, abandonment, neglect and/or because of an incapacitated caretaker/parent. Resource Families (formerly known as foster families) open their homes, providing a temporary safe haven for these children. Resource families provide a safe, stable and supportive family environment for children who cannot live with their birth parents. In most cases, the resource families work with Child Welfare Services to reunite the child with his or her birth parents. Because foster care is meant to be temporary, once the birth parents demonstrate that they are able to meet the basic needs of their children and keep them safe, they are returned to their care. Should the child be unable to safely return to the parent’s home, Child Welfare Services actively prepares the child for adoption or guardianship with a permanent family.

Who Are the Children in Foster Care?

There are currently over 500 children in foster care in Santa Barbara County. Children can come into care at any age, from birth up to 18 years; the majority are school-aged children, including pre-teens and teens. They come from various family backgrounds: in Santa Barbara County, many are part of a sibling group of two or more, the majority are Caucasian or Latino, and about one-third of the children are 5 and under. Some may stay in care for a few days, and others for an extended time. Most have been neglected, or are victims of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Because of the trauma and disruption they have experienced, some may have special physical, mental, and/or emotional needs. All of these children need a safe, stable and loving resource family to provide the quality care they need to grow and thrive!

Becoming a Resource Family

Every child deserves to have a reliable grown-up on their side. Are you interested in fostering a child? Click to learn more about becoming a resource family and the Resource Family Approval program, or contact the Resource Family Information Line at 1-866-899-2649. For a sheet describing the compensation rates available to foster parents effective July 1, 2018, click here. You can also visit our website dedicated to information, resources and support for resource parents and kinship caregivers:




A few days ago I was driving home with my kids. We were singing and being silly. Suddenly I was thinking of how happy I am to be clean and together with them. I was picturing how grumpy and unavailable I would be if I was still using, and how much my relationship with them has changed. I want to thank CWS. You stepped in and although I did not want to see it at first, you pointed me in the right direction. In recovery, I have grown spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Now I am really able to enjoy my children and be a good and responsible mother. 
All this happened because CWS intervened, and I am so grateful for that.  
-A Client

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