United Way California Capital Region Joins United Ways of California in Rolling out Website to Celebrate World Foster Day

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SACRAMENTO (5/29/20) – Preparing for World Foster Day on May 31, United Ways of California – the state network of California United Ways that includes United Way California Capital Region – and California Department of Social Services today announce plans to roll out a new website, KinshipCareCA.org. The site is a free, one-stop navigator to meet the immediate needs of kinship caregivers and foster parents, helping them locate nearby resources, access benefits, and 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,” said Cynthia Vatalaro, bureau chief, Foster Care Support Services Bureau at the California Department of Social Services. “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) is living with extended family members or other relatives. However, records show that in California on average there are more than 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, 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.”

KinshipCareCA.org includes location-based resources for respite care, childcare, healthcare, education and many other developmental and quality of life assets. It includes access to resources supporting stability and 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 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 also can sign up for informational updates by texting KINSHIP to 211 211.

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, email kinship@unitedwaysca.org.

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, visit unitedway.org/local/united-states/california.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

For more information about the California Department of Social Services’ Kinship Support Services Program, visit the Kinship Support Services page or the Kinship Support Services Program list of counties providing these services.