FRESNO -- When Teresa Hernández took in her son's three young
children almost three years ago, caring and providing for them proved
The children quickly started calling Hernández -- who had raised six children of her own -- Mami.
the challenge, Hernández said, has been navigating the complicated
adoption process. Her son moved out of the state and Hernández said the
children are not safe with their mother
For grandparents and others, like Hernández, who are caring for the
children of relatives or friends, a free, confidential phone service,
available in English or Spanish, can provide referrals, information,
support and guidance.
Through the California Kinship Navigator
Program, caregivers -- including grandparents, aunts, uncles, family
members and close family friends -- can receive information on child
care, legal guardianship, housing, clothing, choosing summer camps and
many other topics.
A unique aspect of the program is that callers
speak with a "navigator," who also has experience raising the children
of others. This creates a trusting bond, said Rochelle Ramírez,
Navigator Program supervisor at the Edgewood Center for Children and
Families in San Mateo County.
People who call in, she said, are "talking to a caregiver who has been there and who has done that."
service is open to people across California, Ramírez said, but will
likely have special value for families in San Joaquín Valley counties,
where the rate of grandparents raising children is equal to or higher
than the statewide rate.
Across California, 3.2 percent of
children are in the care of grandparents, according to KidsData.org.
That compares with Tulare County, where 4 percent of children are raised
by grandparents, and Kings and Madera counties, where 4.4 percent are
in the care of grandparents.
The service can be helpful for Spanish-speaking grandparents, who might have few other resources for help, Ramírez said.
bilingual clientele has been slowing rising," she said. "The ones who
are calling in are benefiting from the program. A lot of them call just
for the emotional support."
Hernández said she's interested in learning more about the Kinship Navigator Program.
will call them," she said. "And because I'm very inquisitive, they can
send me from one person to another, until I find the help I need."
(800)-546-0047 or www.cakinship.org. Navigators are available to speak
with callers Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Send e-mail to: