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  • Who We Are!

    "To make a difference in someone's life, you don't have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful, or perfect... You just have to CARE." Mandy Hale

    Right now in California, there are a large number of children that, due to abuse and neglect, need to be placed in loving, stable foster homes. Currently there are more than 62,000 children placed in foster care in California and within that number are 62,000 stories of loss, hurt, abandonment, grief, and sorrow. Who will step into these young lives and change these tragic stories into stories of redeemed hope - one child, one story at a time? .




    Our History: Since 2006, Pathway Family Services has answered the call to care for the needs of these foster children by training, certifying, and supporting foster parents in their brave efforts to re-write the stories of abused and neglected children. Pathway Family Services has transformed the lives of a great number of abused, neglected, and at-risk children and their families by providing safe homes, counseling, resources, and education for both foster children and foster parents. Established, proven, and respected, Pathway Family Services provides services to children in Kern, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Tulare, and Riverside Counties. Pathway Family Services is fully committed to seeing the lives of these precious children healed, restored, and set on a steady path for life-long success.

    Our Story: Rick L. Smith, the Executive Director of Pathway Family Services, is dedicated to see each foster child's destiny changed to impact future generations to come. With more than 20 years of experience, he has led a gifted team of managers, social work staff, and hundreds of foster parents in serving thousands of children in the California foster care system. He has a history of serving as a key partner with Child Welfare Services in California. He works tirelessly with community leaders to try to provide a solution to an ever-growing problem of caring for 'At Risk' youth served in the foster care system. With compassion and vision, Rick L. Smith belives that Pathway Family Services will continue to be a conduit for mercy, service, and wholeness to all of the children and families under its care. Will you join us in our efforts?



  • Our Locations

     Bakersfield/Corporate Office
      Riverside Office

     1600  Florida Ave, #301

     Hemet, California 92544


     951-290-2796 (Fax)



     5000 California Ave, #209

     Bakersfield, California 93309


     661-325-2590 (Fax)



     Santa Maria Office
     Atascadero Office

     7730 Morro Road, #202

     Atascadero, California 93422


     805-464-2992 (Fax)



     218 West Carmen Lane, #209

     Santa Maria, California 93458


     805-739-1113 (Fax)



     Visalia Office

     1200 South Woodland Ave, #D

     Visalia, California 93277



  • Make a Donation

  • Programs

    Foster Care

    God has given each of you special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God's many kinds of blessings. (1 Peter 4:10)

    Pathway Family Services demonstrates a deep commitment to the children in foster care in California by training, certifying, and supporting foster parents in their efforts to care for abused and neglected children. Pathway Family Services has transformed the lives of hundreds families by providing mentorship, resources, and on-going education to foster families in hopes of restoring health, hope, and wholeness to these abused, neglected, and at-risk children.


    Pathway foster parents receive initial training and well as on-going foster parent training to maintain the excellence of their care to their foster children. Pathway foster parents are connected with a Pathway Social Worker who mentors, guides, and visits the home on a regular basis, keeping foster parents informed of rules, regulations, and resources. Pathway on-call Social Workers can be reached by telephone at any time, as needs arise.


    In addition to ongoing support, Pathway Family Services provides numerous enrichment opportunities for foster children and foster parents including Holiday celebrations, foster parent networking events, and other encouraging celebrations. In joining Pathway Family Services, you are joining a team with one goal in mind - to see each foster child's destiny changed to impact the future generations to come.




    Adoption Services

    No child should have to live with the uncertainty of not knowing where they really belong; foster care was never intended to be a long-term solution to the danger and deprivation children in the foster care system have endured. While Pathway Family Services operates as a high quality therapeutic foster care environment, we also are licensed as a California adoption agency, so that once it's determined a child's biological parents aren't going to regain custody of their child, foster families are able to secure their foster child's permanent future through adoption. Working in tandem with the child's county social worker, Pathway completes the required adoption home study at no cost to the family who is adopting. The process is very similar to the assessment completed when a family becomes certified to provide foster care, and meets all of the state and federal home study requirements for a family to be able to adopt.

    Shelter Bed

    We currently have a shelter bed program in Santa Barbara County that maintain a certain number of beds that are always available to provide shelter care  24/7; which we offer to other counties.  Foster parents remain on-call at all times, provide a nurturing, safe, and caring environment, along with a safe and stable home environment until long term foster homes or birth family are identified. 


  • Video Gallery


    Pathway to Foster Care


    Pathway to Adoption


    Trust Based Parenting


    Is It Adoption Related or Not?


    Children From Hard Places


    Motivations Can Speak Louder Than Words

  • Contact Address

    Pathway Family Services Inc.

    5000 California Ave, Suite 209
    Bakersfield, CA 93309
    Telephone: 661-325-2570
    Toll Free: 1-877-550-KIDS


    Contact Form

  • Adoptions




    Pathway to Adoption

    Do you have a caring and compassionate heart? If so, there is a child waiting to hear you say "I Love You and would like for you to be a part of my Family Forever." Pathway is looking for loving families who are willing to embrace neglected and abandoned children by providing them with HELP, HOPE and HEALING. Pathway Family Services is a state licensed, private non-profit adoption agency. We are committed to assisting caring and loving families who want to provide permanent, enduring and loving homes for children who need them.



    Currently there are about 104,000 foster children in the USA who need to be chosen as a member of a forever family. Each year in the state of California about 1,450 children are adopted by foster parents. Adoption provides the greatest amount of legal permanency for a child. The child has a sense of belonging and a chance to develop permanent emotional attachments to a family. The child knows that he or she will always be a part of your family and have someplace to call home forever.... a family they can return to during college breaks.... parents to be at their wedding.... people their children can call grandparents.... family relationships that will last a lifetime. 




    To become an adoptive parent through foster care there are a few basic requirements that you need to meet:


    1.    You must be a mature adult.

    2.    You must be able to demonstrate financial stability.

    3.    Attend Pathway's Foster Care/Adoption orientation Training - 4 sessions for a total of 12 hours.

    4.    Complete Necessary paperwork.

    5.    All adults living at your residence must complete a Criminal Records Clearance.

    6.    All adults must complete a health screening and TB test.

    7.    Allow a home inspection to be completed by a Pathway representative. A bedroom must be available for no more than two children to share.

    8.    Have a Home Study (Permanency Assessment) completed. (Participate in 3 separate interviews with professionally trained Pathway team       members.) During one interview each family member will be interviewed individually. A written report will be prepared to provide to the County     Adoption Department.

    9.    You will be matched with foster child(ren) who have been identified as compatible with your family. Note: It is important to know that the placing county always has the final approval/disapproval of an adoptive home.  


    Application Process




    The first step is to contact Pathway Family Services at (877) 550-KIDS or send an e-mail requesting information to You will be sent information about the agency as well as a schedule of upcoming orientations and classes. In addition, someone within our  Adoption Program will be  available to meet with you and provide an overview of the adoption process, covering the different types of adoption available and answering any questions you may have. Next, you will be asked to attend an orientation. The orientation will cover such topics as the foster care system, ways to build a family, the children in the system, requirements for and benefits of becoming a foster and adoptive parent. There are 12 hours of training offered. Contact your nearest Pathway office for dates and times in your area. Additionally, you will have to be certified in First Aid and CPR, which is offered through the agency, obtain a criminal record clearance and meet all foster care requirements. Once all of the documentation is received a Home Study and Home Inspection will follow.

    Ongoing Support
    Does financial support terminate after an adoption is finalized? In a fost/adopt situation, the adoptive family is entitled to Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) financial support once adoptive placement papers are signed. This is a monthly benefit that continues until the child is 18 years old. The monthly AAP ratemay be as much as what the county foster care rate would be should the child have remained in the foster care system.

    What other Family Support options are available?
    All children are entitled to Medi-Cal benefits until the age of 18. In addition if the child qualifies, professional services from California Regional Center Services, California Children's Services and Individualized Educational Program and Special Education Services may be available. Federal income tax (IRS) credit for adoption of special needs children. U.S. Department of Labor states the following: "the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement" qualifies for Family Medical Leave Act. In addition, there may be a federal income tax deduction provided upon finalization of your adoption.

    Are there Post Adoption Services?
    Adoption is a life-long process. At any stage of development issues may arise that you need to help your child work through. The placing county adoptions department will help provide assistance.


    Are there Mental Health Services available?


    The placing county adoptions department has therapists available to work with children and families using a therapeutic approach. Either foster or adopted children are eligible for these services until they are 18 years old. The child's Medi-Cal also will cover the cost of any needed mental health counseling for the Child.

  • Becoming a Foster Parent



    Pathway to Foster Care



    Becoming a foster parent requires the following:  

    1. Paperwork - there are 2 packets of information that must be filled out. One is a basic overview and the second is more in-depth information needed for the certification process.
    2. Health Clearances - you will need to have a routine check-up and TB test screening.
    3. Federal and State Clearances - all prospective foster parents must be fingerprinted and have DOJ, FBI and Child Abuse clearances prior to certification.
    4. Preparation and Home Inspection - all homes prior to certification must have a home inspection done to insure all state guidelines are met.

    5. Training - all foster parents must complete several hours of orientation training prior to certification. (Note: 30 hours for Riverside County)
    6. First Aid/CPR - all foster parents must be First Aid/CPR certified.


    If you do not know who to contact regarding your crisis situations or concerns, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF)of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a list of resources. Contact information for State, local, tribal, and private organizations that address a range of child, youth, and family issues. Childhelp is a national organization that provides crisis assistance and other counseling and referral services is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with professional crisis counselors who have access to a database of 55,000 emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous. Contact them at 1.800.4.A.CHILD. (1.800.422.4453)

    Children Home Alone

    Domestic Violence or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

    International Parental Child Abduction

    Adult Survivors of Abuse

    Child Abuse or call National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1.800.422.4453)

    Child Abuse Reporting Numbers

    Child Sexual Exploitation/Missing Children

    Runaway Youth

    Victims of Crime Resource Center

    Substance Abuse

    Victims of Crime

    2*1*1 Kern County

    Foster Parent Organization for Foster Parents

  • Our Leadership Team

    Rick L. Smith, M.A.
    Executive Director

    Driven by a passion to serve neglected and abused children, Rick has provided foster care and adoptive homes for thousands of children in the California foster care system since 1993. He has a Master's Degree in Business and more than 21 years of Executive Leadership experience in providing quality care for children in the foster care system. Rick is the founder/CEO of Pathway Family Services and serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. He and his wife, Jane have three adult children (who are married) and five amazing grandchildren.

    Nathan Smith
    Director of Administrative Operations


    Committed to the vision and mission of Pathway, Nathan has served on the Pathway Leadership team since 2006. His significant skills are demonstrated in the recruitment tools that he designs and manages for the growing foster care and adoption agency. Nathan's long history with Pathway provides a rich knowledge of the inner workings of the day-to-day operations as he directs the task of administrative operations with Pathway's social work administrative team. Nathan has been married for 14 years to his wife Anissa and has three children.


    Brian D. Parnell
    Adoption Program Director 

    Experienced in both the public and private sectors of Child Welfare Services, Brian provides a wealth of knowledge, understanding and experience as Pathway's Adoption Program Director. He has a Master's Degree in Social Work and brings with his leadership skills more than 23 years of experience in Public Child Welfare Service at a management level, including serving as the Adoption Program Director for Kern County for more than 4 years. Brian is responsible for overseeing the work of the adoption social work staff in all of the counties that Pathway serves.

    Kenneth R. Cummings

    Deputy Director of Agency Resources

    Skilled in financial and business management for more than 20 years, Ken provides significant understanding to overseeing the Finance Department, the Human Resources Department and IT Department. Since 2007 he has worked with the Executive Director to develop and build the infrastructure of these vital departments of Pathway. Ken's track record is one of success and efficiency. Ken and his wife Sharlon have been foster parents and in addition to 2 biological daughters, they have also adopted 3 children from the foster care system, ages 2, 5 & 15.

    Sherrie Butler

    Deputy Director, Central Coast Region

    Passionate about the vision of Pathway, Sherrie has worked with the Executive Director since 2010 to develop the expansion of Pathway Family Services to the central coast of California. Her wealth of education, which includes two Master's Degrees one in Educational Counseling, the other in Counseling/Human Relations. Her practical experience in serving as a private Agency Social Worker, Supervisor and now Deputy Director provides significant insight and understanding as she directs the Pathway offices and teams in the central coast region. Sherrie has a track record of producing growth and success for Pathway and quality services to our foster parents and children served. Sherrie is a mother of two sons.


    Dr. Brynn Nodarse

    Riverside County Administrator

    Dr. Brynn Nodarse joined Pathway's leadership team in 2015. She serves as our District Administrator for our newest office serving Riverside County. Along with her several years of experience in private agency social work, and knowledge of working with Riverside County Department of Social Services, Brynn brings a drive and a passion that is committed to providing excellent, caring and compassionate service to foster children and their foster families. Brynn has a Doctors degree in Psychology. She has outstanding communication and teaching skills which is greatly valued and appreciated as a part of the Pathway leadership team.


    Our Board of Directors


    Rick L. Smith

    Board Chairman/President
    Executive Director, PFS

    Fred A. Plane

    Board Treasurer
    CFO, Local Hospital (retired)

    Nathan L. Smith

    Board Secretary
    (non-Board Member)

    Robert Johnson

    Board Member
    Retired Pastor/Consultant

    Doug Pike

    Board Member
    Superintendent of Private Schools

    Liz Carrizalez

    Board Member
    Program Director, Non-Profit Organization

    Ed Clark

    Board Member
    Insurance Agent

    Sherry Rose, DTh

    Board Member
    Director, WAW Conference
    President, WKE, Inc.