Child Welfare Services (CWS)

Child Welfare Services, sometimes referred to as Child Protective Services (CPS), aims to provide for the safety and stability of children and youth who are at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Child Welfare Services offer a broad variety of services and programs developed to protect the children and youth of our community from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by their parent(s) or caregiver(s). 

Most parents want to be good parents.  They do their best under sometimes stressful circumstances. The Department's priority is to provide services and support parents in finding ways to keep their child safely in the family home when possible and appropriate.  When this cannot be safely accomplished, reunification services may be offered to facilitate the return of the child to the family home. 


Adoption Assistance

The Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) is a benefit program designed to meet an adopted child’s needs up to age 18. In some instances, this benefit can be extended up to the age of 21. This program includes a monthly financial stipend, medical insurance through Medi-Cal, and a one-time reimbursement of non-recurring adoption expenses (up to $400 per child).

Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth Services

Services and support are provided to commercially sexually exploited children and their families to help them heal and recover in a protective environment.

This service also provides education and awareness to at-risk children and connects them with services and support before victimization occurs.

The CSEC Collaborative Response Team of San Luis Obispo County responds to reports of commercial sexual exploitation of children in San Luis Obispo County. For more information about our response team please review our CSEC Brochure.

The County CSEC protocol for the handling of suspected instances of commercial sexual exploitation of children provides the basis for response and the pertinent policy and procedures in San Luis Obispo County.

Emergency Response (ER)

Child Welfare Services is available to take reports of suspected child abuse 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will respond to the concerns that meet the criteria for a response. Reports meeting the criteria are responded to within 24 hours, three (3) days, five (5) days, or ten (10) days depending on the severity of the concerns.  A social worker will respond and assess the household for risk and safety in addition to referring families to services.

Extended Foster Care (EFC) through California Assembly Bill 12 (AB12)

Extended Foster Care offers eligible foster and probation youth supportive services on a voluntary basis between the youth’s 18th and 21st birthdays; this can include case management, a monthly financial stipend, housing assistance, and/or education and employment training opportunities, among other individualized services.

Family Maintenance

Family Maintenance (FM) provides time-limited supportive and protective services to families in crisis, designed to prevent or remedy abuse or neglect. This allows Social Workers to work with the family while keeping the child in the home. Services can include counseling, substance abuse treatment, domestic violence intervention, victim services, and parenting education. Family Maintenance can be court ordered or a voluntary agreement between the family and the Department that address specific behavioral issues and achieve family stabilization related goals. 
If the family’s conditions do not improve or worsen and the child’s safety and well-being is at risk, the Social Services Department may petition the Juvenile Court to place the child/youth in out-of-home care.

Family Reunification

Family Reunification (FR) provides time-limited services to remedy neglect, abuse, or exploitation, when the child cannot safely remain at home and needs temporary foster care while services are provided to the family. When a child is placed in out-of-home placement, the first goal is to reunite the child with their family as soon as possible. Child Welfare Services implement strategies that build on families’ strengths and address concerns. Such strategies may include trauma-informed, family engagement, establishing and/or maintaining family and cultural connections, connecting families to services, regular and frequent visits with family members, and parent education.
Returning children home often requires intensive, family-centered services to support a safe and stable family. Services are tailored to each family's circumstances and must address the issue(s) that brought the child and family to the attention of Child Welfare Services.

Independent Living Program (ILP)

The Independent Living Program (ILP) is a service designed to provide resources and support for foster youth and probation youth between the ages of 14-21.  ILP is a voluntary program, offering current and former foster and probation youth access to services through local organizations and agencies to support a successful transition to adulthood.


Permanency Planning

Most frequently, the plan is for children, youth and families to reunite; Permanency Planning (also known as concurrent planning) is a State requirement which mandates that the Department of Social Services must identify an alternative permanent family structure for every child involved in the foster care system in the event that they are not able to reunify with their family. Concurrent Planning offers simultaneous consideration and preparation of implementation of a backup permanency plan only if the family is unable to reunify safely.  Permanency options include adoption, guardianship, or a planned permanent living arrangement (PPLA).  Permanency planning is a process which facilitates the creation and maintenance of lifelong connections with family members or other caring adults in a youth’s life, supporting a positive, healthy, continuous relationship throughout the youth’s life.

Resource Family Approval (RFA)

Resource Family Approval (RFA) is a streamlined, family-friendly and child-centered certification process to approve care providers for children placed in out of home care. RFA was implemented in San Luis Obispo County in November, 2013 and statewide in January, 2017.
RFA creates unified approval standards for all caregivers, children in out of home care will be better positioned to be provided permanency more quickly, and Resource Families will have access to expanded supportive services. 
The RFA process includes a home environment check, a comprehensive psychosocial assessment, and training for all families, including relatives. It prepares families to better meet the needs of vulnerable children in the foster care system, it will decrease disruptions, improve caregiver satisfaction, and will increase and allow for a more seamless transition to permanency.

Safely Surrender a Baby

The Safely Surrendered Baby law allows a parent or person with lawful custody to safely surrender a baby confidentially, and without fear of prosecution for child abandonment, at a “safe surrender site” within 72 hours of birth.

Contact Social Services

Child Hotline Information:

  • If you suspect there is an emergency requiring immediate intervention, call 911
  • To report suspected child abuse or neglect call the 24 hour Child Abuse Hotline at (805) 781-KIDS (5437) or toll free 1-800-834-KIDS (5437)

Adult Hotline Information:

  • If you suspect there is an emergency requiring immediate intervention, call 911
  • To report suspected elder abuse or neglect call the Adult Services Hotline at (805) 781-1790 during regular business hours, or after business hours call (844) 729-8011
  • Mandated Reporter