United Ways of California Rolls Out, a Statewide Kinship Navigator, to Celebrate World Foster Day on May 31

New statewide website offers kinship and foster families access to critical resources, services and live help call specialists

Concept 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/or receive general support via its online search feature and dedicated team of highly trained kinship navigation call specialists. Kinship families are part of all communities across California and kinship caregivers provide essential care and nurturing for their kinship children. Kinship families offer a tremendous opportunity for vulnerable children and youth to join a part of their extended family, when their immediate family is unable to care for them. The website is aimed to increase the capacity of kinship caregivers in providing safe, stable, and nurturing homes for children in their care.


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.

Project 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. Kinship navigator 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 Way of Central Eastern California is proud to partner with the California Department of Social Services in serving our state’s kinship families. The website utilizes Google Translate.

Online Evaluation Study

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 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.