California, public and private agencies and grassroots coalitions
of grandparents and other relative caregivers have begun working
together to expand the services available to kinship caregivers
who are caring for children outside of the foster care system.
the major kinship care programs and supports are listed below.
Additional support groups can be found through the AARP Grandparent
Information Center Database. Call 1-800-424-3410, e-mail information
requests to firstname.lastname@example.org, or search AARP’s online kinship
care support group database at http://www.aarp.org/grandparents/searchsupport/.
as Parents Program Initiatives: The Brookdale Foundation
has funded three projects in recent years in California through
its Relatives As Parents Program (“RAPP”) initiative: Grandparent
Caregiver Resource Center in San Jose, Jewish Family Services
of Torrance, and West Coast Children’s Center in Oakland.
Resource Center is the sole provider of comprehensive
year-round kinship care services in Santa Clara County.
Services include: support groups, a “warmline,” case management,
health screenings, a resource library, educational seminars,
recreation and respite activities, resource referrals, advocacy,
and assistance with legal guardianship processes. Contact:
Renie Henchy, Program Manager, at (408) 325-5194 or email@example.com.
Children’s Center runs year-round support groups meeting
twice a month, a tutorial program for children raised by kinship
caregivers (held concurrently with caregiver support groups),
and educational meetings covering topics chosen by caregivers.
Contact: Lenora Poe, PhD, at (510) 845-7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Family Services of Torrance holds weekly support groups
for caregivers and their children during the school months
and educational forums twice yearly open to all kinship caregivers.
Contact: Karen Tobias, RAPP Program Coordinator, at
(310) 540-6646 or JFSSouthbay@earthlink.net.
Kinship Care Supports:
Support Services Program (“KSSP”) provides State funds
to eligible counties having a minimum of 40% of county foster
children in relative care. KSSP encourages collaborations
between county social service departments and private non-profit
agencies. The agencies provide supportive services to
relative caregiver families whose children are dependents
of the county social services or juvenile court systems or
who are at risk of dependency or delinquency. Currently, 11
counties participate, 10 in collaboration with local non-profits
who provide the direct services. There are a total of
22 sites in Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Monterey,
Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo,
Santa Clara, and Stanislaus. Contact: Harriet
Hopgood, Manager, Kincare Policy & Support Unit, California
Department of Social Services, at (916) 323-9750 or email@example.com.
Assistance Agency for KSSP: Edgewood Center for Children and
Families (“ECCF”), Kinship Support Network (“KSN”), located
in San Francisco, is a full service, center-based, kinship
program founded in 1993 as a public – private collaboration
with the San Francisco Department of Social Services.
Services provided to kinship care families both inside and
outside of the foster care system include: support groups
(English, Spanish, Cantonese, Tagalog and Vietnamese languages),
case management and emergency response services, educational
workshops, mentoring and tutoring, ILS, recreation and respite,
advocacy, health services/referrals, mental health assessments/
support, legal services, and summer camping programs.
KSN maintains a computer lab, on-site library, clothes closet,
food bank and on-site child care services for client families.
Contact: Ken Epstein, Director of Programs, Kinship Support
Network, at (415) 682-3232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
for Kinship Care Families in Los Angeles County:
The Institute for Black Parenting (“IBP”) provides the following
free services to kinship families: a monthly support
group, assistance with legal guardianship, adoption planning,
placements and finalizations, relative caregiver and staff
trainings, informational workshops, respite activities, First
Time Homebuyer’s Training, transportation and child care assistance,
and information and referral. Contact: Alondra
James, at 1-800-367-8858 or email@example.com.
for Native American Families: The Southern California
Indian Center, Inc. provides services to kinship families
within Indian communities. Services are provided by
staff who are American Indian or are experienced working with
these communities and include: in-home visits, educational
workshops, counseling, therapeutic recreation & respite,
school and court advocacy, assistance in accessing medical
services and financial help, permanency planning, transportation
and child care. Contact: Kathleen Bridgeland,
at (213) 387-5772 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
for Kinship Care Families in Orange County: Family Connections
sponsors comprehensive support programs for kinship care families
in Orange County. Family Connections is funded by Orangewood’s
Children Foundation, a local private non-profit agency; the
county social services agency; and Families and Communities
Together (“FaCT”). There are four core services: outreach,
respite, home/office visits, and support groups. Additional
services include legal assistance, tutoring, advocacy, information
and referral, recreation activities, and transportation. Contact:
Kian Clineff, Family Connections Program Coordinator, at (714)
480-6373 or email@example.com.
for Kinship Care Families in Solano County: Aldea Treatment
Family Center is a non-profit agency that provides services
to kinship families including: support groups for caregivers
in Vallejo, Vacaville and Fairfield; support groups for children
(including a mental health component and art therapy); educational
workshops; and social events for families (picnics, holiday
parties). Contact: Jean White, Coordinator, Kinship Project,
at (707) 425-9670 (ext. 125) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Care Education Programs: Sixty-seven California Community
Colleges currently receive funds to provide educational programs
and workshops for kinship caregivers. This statewide program
is built upon the work that community colleges have done for
25 years in California providing education and training for
foster parents and other care providers working with foster
children and youth. The State Chancellor’s Office of
the California Community Colleges provides oversight and works
closely with the State Department of Social Services. Contact:
Lucy Berger, Coordinator of Foster and Kinship Care Education,
at (916) 323-5276, or Lberger@cccco.edu.
Coalitions and Task Forces: Several of California’s larger
grassroots kinship care coalitions and task forces are listed
Coalition of Grandparents & Relative Caregivers (“CCG/RC”)
is a statewide coalition of support groups organized in 1992
to provide a networking opportunity for individual support
groups to share resources and information and to raise public
awareness about kinship families’ needs. It currently
meets twice yearly in Sacramento, using the occasion to network
with other kinship caregivers and to meet with state legislators.
Contact: Lenora Poe, PhD, at 510-845-7189 or email@example.com.
as Parents (“GAP”) has worked in the Los Angeles metropolitan
area for 15 years. It currently runs 10 support groups
(2 in Spanish) in Sherman Oaks, Inglewood, Panorama City,
Burbank, Pasadena, Carson, Bellflower, Long Beach and Compton.
The groups meet weekly and child care is provided during the
meetings. GAP also publishes a monthly newsletter, sponsors
family outings and educational workshops, hosts a holiday
party and annual conference, and maintains a clothing exchange
and warm line for information and referrals. Contact:
Sylvie de Toledo at (818) 789-1177 or Barbara Wasson at (714)
761-2231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Network of Northern California (“GNNC”) is a non-profit
organization serving relative caregivers and smaller support
groups throughout the northern counties. GNNC is a coalition
of individuals and support groups organized to educate the
public and local government/nonprofit agencies and advocate
with elected officials to increase support and understanding
for kinship care family needs in the northern counties.
Contact: Sandy Weiss at (530) 756-0183 or weissSBK@cs.com
or Lloyd King at (530) 872-9191.
Raising Grandchildren Task Force, Riverside County was
created by the County Board of Supervisors in response to
complaints from relative caregivers about lack of access to
necessary services for their families. Membership is
by appointment of the Board and includes grandparents from
each county district, representatives from all county departments,
the judicial system and at-large representatives. The
overall purpose of the task force is to identify emerging
needs and issues of relative caregiver families, coordinate
resources to address them and foster necessary change through
planning, program development, community outreach, education
and advocacy. Contact: Mary Jo Casino, Task Force
Coordinator, at 909-791-3573 or email@example.com.
& Relatives as Second Parents (“GRP”) began providing
supportive services to Northern California, East Bay relative
caregivers in 1988 with a Warm Line, crisis counseling, workshops,
health and parenting education. GRP has a support group
that meet three times weekly in Castro Valley, offering peer
support and counseling. Contact: Julianne Brown,
Executive Director, at (510) 567-1162 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kinship Care Coordinating Council ("KCCC") was created
in November 2000 by the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles to
address the needs of senior caregivers raising relative children.
KCCC consists of key policy makers in both aging and children’s
services representing city and county agencies, private, non-profit
organizations and faith-based communities. The Council researches
and recommends policy options and resources and support systems
to assist kinship families in the City and County of Los Angeles.
Contact: Paula Gelber Dromi, PhD, LCSW, Director, Home
and Community Based Technical Assistance, Department of Aging,
at (213) 368-4007 or email@example.com.
& Public Awareness: California recognized early the
need to educate the public, public officials/agencies and
private non-profit agencies about the concerns and issues
that kinship care families face. Organizations such as the
American Association of Retired Persons, California Chapter
(“AARP”) and the California Welfare Directors’ Association
(“CWDA”) work to address kinship family needs through advocacy
initiatives, education of members and county/regional activities.
Legislative lobbying on behalf of kinship families has been
a focus of California Partnership for Children (“CPC”) (a
Sacramento-based organization) since the early 1990’s.
CPC took an early leadership role in developing and lobbying
for legislation supporting the needs of kinship families.
Contacts: Kimberly Smith, AARP Associate State Director,
at (916) 446-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Frank Mecca,
Executive Director, CWDA at (916) 443-1749 or email@example.com.
Alan Watahara, Executive Director, CPC, at (916) 444-7477
or Joni Pitcl, Lobbyist, firstname.lastname@example.org. Saul
Sarabia, Director, Prevention Network (Los Angeles area advocate),
Care and California’s Foster Care System
children in the care of the states are placed in foster care
with grandparents or other relatives. In California,
the Department of Social Services (“DSS”) reports:
of children in kinship foster care placements: As of January
2001, there were 93,539 children in out-of-home placements.
Of these children, 34,743 (37.2%) were placed with kin. Between
January 2000 and January 2002, 8,000 children in kin homes
left the foster care system via the KinGAP program (described
for kinship placements: State law and regulation require
that kin be considered first when an out-of-home placement
is sought for a child under DSS’s care.
Licensing for kinship foster
parents: The state has established criteria for assessing
the safety of relative homes prior to placement. In
1998, legislation was enacted to enhance the state’s compliance
with the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.
Guardianship Assistance Payment (Kin-GAP) Program: In
addition to foster care payments and other benefits available
to kin raising children in the foster care system, some states
also have a subsidized guardianship program. California’s
Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment (Kin-GAP) Program
is a subsidized guardianship program for children in foster
care who have lived with relatives for at least 12 months.
KinGAP payments are equal to the basic foster care rate. The
program is administered at the county level with the State
providing policy oversight and training. (CAL. WELF. &
INST. CODE, Chapter 2, Part 3, Division 9, §§ 361.5,
366.21, 366.22, 366.3 & 15200 (amended); add Art. 4.5,
beginning with § 11360) (1999) Contact: Harriet
Hopgood, Manager, Kincare Policy & Support Unit, California
Department of Social Services, at (916) 323-9750 or email@example.com.
welfare contact: Questions about kinship care should be
directed to: Harriet Hopgood, Manager, Kincare Policy
& Support Unit, California Department of Social Services,
at (916) 323-9750 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
for kinship foster parents: Lilliput Children’s
Services is a KinNet site in Sacramento that provides a monthly
support group for relatives raising children under the care
of the foster care system and an interactive children’s group
during the support group meeting. Other services provided
include: resource referrals, a reference library, and information
on permanency options. Training for child welfare professionals
is also available. Contact: Karen Alvord, at (916) 830-7722
for California Kinship Care Families
by kinship caregivers are often eligible for a range of state
and federal programs. In most cases, kinship caregivers may
apply for these programs on a child’s behalf even though they
are not the child’s parents or legal guardians. Some
examples of these programs include1:
Cash assistance may be available to children and their grandparents
and relative caregivers through California’s CalWorks program.
Kinship families may also be eligible for food stamps to help
meet their children’s food and nutrition needs. For
more information about these programs, call 1-800-952-5253
or log on to http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/cdssweb./.
insurance: Grandparents and other relative caregivers
may apply for free or low-cost health insurance on behalf
of the children they are raising through the Medi-Cal or Healthy
Families programs. In some cases, caregivers may also
be eligible for free coverage under Medi-Cal. For more
information about how to apply for these programs, call 1-800-880-5305
or log on to http://www.healthyfamilies.ca.gov. For
a free guide on Medi-Cal and Healthy Families for kinship
care families, call the California office of the Children's
Defense Fund at (510) 663-3224.
kinship caregivers find it difficult to obtain services their
children need, such as medical care or education. In
addition to the state’s child guardianship and custody laws,
the following laws may be helpful to kinship caregivers:
Adoption (CAL. WELF. & INST. CODE, §§ 309(a),
(d), 319, 355(a), 358.1(b), (e), 361(b), 361.3, 361.5(a),
(b)(13), 366(c), 366.21(e), (f), (g), 366.22(a), 366.23(e),
387(a), 366.3(f), 16501.1(f)(4), (7), (9), 16501.1(i); Family
Code §§8714.5, 8714.7, 8715; Education Code
§ 1228.1) (1997) : This law creates a new permanency
option for relatives. It establishes standards to guide
social service agencies and the courts in determining when
it is in the best interests of the child to place her/him
with a relative caregiver.
Funding to Continue Foster Care Payments to Adopting Relatives
(CAL. WELF. & INST. CODE § 11404.2)(1995):
This law provides that, when a child qualified for foster
care is living with a relative caregiver, that relative is
eligible for payments for the period between relinquishment
of parental rights until the adoption by the relative is finalized.
Consent (CAL. FAM. CODE, §§ 6550 & 6552): This
law creates a “caregiver’s authorization affidavit” that gives
the relative caregiver authority to request treatment by health
Consent (CAL. FAM. CODE, §§ 6550 & 6552; Education
Code § 48204):
See “Medical Consent” above.
Same affidavit gives the relative caregiver authority to enroll
child(ren) in school and to authorize school-related medical
Guardianship (CAL. PROB. CODE, § 2105): This law
provides for successor guardianships where the current relative
caregiver is either elderly or in ill health. It allows
the caregiver to identify a preferred guardian to care for
her/his child(ren) upon her/his death or incapacity.
Guardianship (CAL. PROB. CODE, § 1514): This law
is used to create formal guardianship status for relative
caregivers whose children are not in the state dependency
– to – Work Exemption (CAL. WELF. & INST. CODE, §
A relative caregiver for a
Kin-GAP child, a foster child or a child “at-risk” of entering
foster care can continue to receive welfare benefits without
meeting work requirements or using up the 60 month time limit
(as long as caring for the child inhibits the caregiver from
working or the caregiver is over 65).
Cooperation (MPP § 82-510.5): A Kin-GAP, foster care
or child-only welfare grant cannot be reduced if a caregiver
relative refuses to cooperate with the state in locating the
parent for purposes of collecting child support.
about this fact sheet or recommendations for additions to
future versions should be submitted to Johnson & Hedgpeth,
Consultants, Kinship Services and Child Welfare issues at
(415) 863-4415 or email@example.com.
Johnson & Hedgpeth provide strategic planning services,
staff and caregiver trainings, site and personnel assessments,
conference planning and presentations for public and private
agencies offering support services to kinship care families
throughout California and in other states. Their website