GIVE through
December 31

Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County

Organization Mission

Family Service Agency’s mission is to strengthen and advocate for families and individuals of all ages and diverse backgrounds, helping to create and preserve a healthy community. Since 1899, FSA has provided access to food, shelter, and other basic needs, as well as youth mentoring, family support and parent education, substance abuse treatment, and mental-health counseling.

Social Change Project:
Holistic Defense

Holistic Defense is a partnership between Family Service Agency and the Santa Barbara County Public Defender that aims to reduce recidivism by stabilizing offenders’ lives. A social work advocate joins the client’s legal defense team and supports the client in addressing the root causes of their past criminal behavior. This is a cultural shift away from focusing on the criminal act and resulting punishment, to a client-centered model that focuses on the entirety of the client’s life — providing a robust defense and stability via a web of existing, community-based support and interventions. For instance, if a client is struggling with a substance-use disorder, Holistic Defense would work to connect the person with treatment and educational programs. As the client’s life stabilizes, we expect the likelihood of re-offending to decrease.

“Things are going well. It looks like I may be moving to the next phase of a transitional living program…Work is still amazing. I’m doing well and getting along with everyone. I feel like I’m fitting in nicely. This is all because of you and how you believe in me. Thank you. I’m so grateful to have you in my life and in my corner. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

— Single Mother & Client of Holistic Defense, Santa Barbara