LOS ANGELES, May 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Preparing for World Foster Day on May 31, United Ways of California, the state network of California United Ways, and California Department of Social Services today announce plans to roll out a new website, KinshipCareCA.org, a free, one-stop navigator to meet the immediate needs of kinship caregivers and foster parents, helping them locate nearby resources, access benefits, and/or receive general support via its online search feature and dedicated team of highly trained call specialists. The website is aimed to increase the capacity of kinship caregivers in providing safe, stable, and nurturing homes for children in their care.
"We are excited about expanding the information and referral services to kinship families in California," explains Cynthia Vatalaro, Bureau Chief for the Foster Care Support Services Bureau at the California Department of Social Services. Vatalaro added, "In normal times and especially during this crisis, the supports we provide to kinship families are critical to the children and youth in our care. As they have stepped up, it's important for California to support them in accessing the supports they need to thrive."
Kinship caregivers open their hearts and homes to a relative's child. Approximately one-third of California's formal child welfare system (59,156 children) are living with extended family members or other relatives. However, this is not the whole story because records show that in California on average there are over 285,000 children being raised by relatives outside the child welfare system. Studies have shown that kinship care can lead to better emotional health, fewer placements, and better outcomes. Offering kinship navigation tools makes for stronger families all-around.
"We are delighted to partner with the state of California to provide this new, comprehensive resource to California's kinship and foster caregivers," says Peter Manzo, President and CEO of United Ways of California. "We know that finding resources online or with call specialists, on-demand, day or night, helps foster and kinship youth and caregivers as well as those that serve them, better meet their needs, based on a prior study we conducted in three counties. Taking it statewide is a big step forward," Manzo added.
KinshipCareCA.org includes location-based resources for respite care, childcare, healthcare, education and many other developmental and quality of life assets. Additionally, it includes access to resources supporting stability and the fulfillment of basic needs, such as utility, housing and food assistance. The online resource database currently covers 53 of California's 58 counties, with resources for remaining counties rolling out by the end of the year. Call specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with live chat rolling out in the coming months. The website is powered by California's partnership of 211 information and referral providers, and a new statewide resources database for 17 counties not served by 211. Caregivers can also sign up for informational updates by texting KINSHIP to 211 211. United Ways of California is proud to partner with the California Department of Social Services and local United Ways in serving our state's kinship families. The website utilizes Google Translate. To share this website, please use this widget.
In an effort to better understand the impact of kinship navigation service provision and child welfare policies designed to meet the needs of kinship families, kinship caregivers will have the opportunity to participate in an online study coming soon to the new website. This kinship navigator study, conducted by evaluation partner, Data With Purpose, will further support the launch of the KinshipCareCA.org program by collecting valuable data about California's kinship family service needs, resource availability, and well-being outcomes to promote continuous quality improvement of this innovative program, as well as national thought leadership in kinship navigation. The evaluation study has begun with pilot testing of the program website with kinship caregivers. In an effort to be accessible to the diverse population of caregivers in California, the online study is available in multiple languages. For more information about KinshipCareCA.org please email [email protected].
About United Ways of California - United Ways of California improves the health, education and financial stability of low-income families by enhancing and coordinating the advocacy and community impact work of 30 member United Ways throughout California. For more information about United Ways of California, visit unitedwaysca.org. To find a local United Way near you visit unitedwaysca.org/find-united-way. For a complete list of United Ways in California please visit unitedway.org/local/united-states/california.
About California Department of Social Services - For more information please visit the Kinship Support Services page for more information or the Kinship Support Services Program list of counties providing these services.
SOURCE United Ways of California