Foster Care is a program that matches caring families with children and youth who need safe, temporary homes. The Foster Care/Adoption Program of San Mateo County is seeking strong, stable families who can offer a safe and loving home for children suffering from abuse or neglect.

Who can be a Foster Parent?

Foster parents are people who open their homes to children who have been removed from their families because they are at risk of abuse and neglect.

Foster parents can be from any age group or ethnic background, married or single, gay or straight, with or without children, homeowners or renters.

Kinship Care

Whenever possible, we will try to place a child with a suitable and available extended family member. San Mateo County offers services and programs for households taking in a family member's child.

Kinship Care Support Services


In San Mateo County, you can only adopt if you are a licensed foster parent.

Adoption establishes a legal relationship between a child and a parent not related by birth. Adoption is a permanent association, giving the adoptive parents and child the same legal relationship that exists between birth parents and their children.

How old are the children and how long do they stay in Foster Care?

Foster children generally range in age from newborns to 18-year-olds. Under California law AB12, foster care has been extended to the age of 21.

Aftercare for Young Adults

Foster parents may decide what age group they are best able to care for, and whether they can accept boys or girls, children with health issues, disabilities or other special needs.

Children can be placed in foster homes for a few weeks to as long as one (1) year, depending on the type of care the foster parents are trained to provide. The goal of foster care is to safely return children to their birth families and when that’s not possible, find a permanent loving home for the children.

San Mateo County has a particular need for foster homes for adolescents, siblings and emergency placements.

How do I prepare to be a Foster Parent?

Foster care relies on trained, licensed adults who are able to provide a safe, stable and nurturing home. All foster parents must complete training and receive a criminal background check, a health screening and a home inspection. All training, licensing and inspections are provided free of charge, and usually take three to six months to complete.

What kind of support do Foster Parents recieve?

Foster families receive a monthly payment to cover the cost of the child's food, shelter, clothing and other needs. Foster parents receive support through the Foster Parent Mentoring program and various other support groups. The Agency reimburses foster parents for the transportation of foster children. The child's health care is provided by the foster care program. Foster parents work closely with social workers, and receive ongoing education to make sure that children and families get the medical, mental health and other support they need to thrive.

Please note that childcare is not available.