Kinship caregivers are a diverse group, but they are united in that they are all stepping in at a moment of crisis and caring for children who have experienced traumatic events and can no longer be raised by their biological parent(s). Kinship care has become increasingly important because research shows children fare better when they can remain in the care of a family member instead of entering the traditional foster care system.

At the Y we know no family unit is the same, and we are proud to support every family in our community.

Grandma D is a 67-year-old, single grandmother who lives in East County and recently stepped in to raise her 2-year-old grandson, Isaac, after he was removed from his biological mother’s care. Raising a grandchild comes with many challenges, but Grandma D was facing extra barriers. Not only had Isaac experienced trauma while in the care of his mother, but he also had several special medical needs, including a feeding tube, a hearing aid, and a small boot on one foot, that required him to go to several appointments at Rady Children’s Hospital every week.

Despite the challenges associated with caring for Isaac, Grandma D was completely committed to providing a safe, stable, and loving home for him. The services she received from the Kinship Support Program were able to make an incredibly difficult but important job a little easier.

YMCA Supports Kinship Families

Kinship caregivers are relative or non-relative family members who unexpectedly assume the role of primary caregiver for a child after a significant barrier – like substance abuse, mental health challenges, or incarceration – prevents the child from being raised by his or her biological parents.

Kinship families are often considered "formal" or "informal" based on how the children were placed in the care of their relatives. At the Y, we believe that the method of placement into kinship care should not determine the amount of support a caregiver receives. All caregivers require adequate support to ensure that the children in their care can grow up in a safe and supportive environment that helps them heal from the trauma they have experienced.

What is Kinship Support?

YMCA Youth & Family Services has provided supportive services for kinship families since 1999 and developed the current program model as the result of a federal demonstration project awarded in 2009. 

With more than 20 years’ experience working with kinship caregivers, the Y has fine-tuned an array of services to give caregivers access to the support necessary to maintain both relational and legal permanency. 

To learn more about the needs of families who participated in the program from 2016-2018 download the Kinship Support Program Summary.