Cheryl* is a multi-racial (American Indian and White) 38 year-old who cares for her 12- year old great niece and 6 year old great nephew, in addition to her own three children, ages 7 and 13.
Cheryl learned of the Kinship Navigator program of Yakima, Washington through another kinship caregiver family and called to get help obtaining custody of her great niece and nephew because of their mother’s drug involvement. Cheryl noted that the navigator was instrumental in walking Cheryl through the steps to obtain custody of her great niece and nephew, helping with judicial paperwork, getting legal assistance, communicating with police, arranging welfare payments for the children, and ongoing supportive listening. Once custody was established, the Navigator helped Cheryl get connected with Catholic Family Services which helped pay their bills and get groceries at Christmas time. Cheryl most appreciated that the Yakima Navigator was “non-judgmental, strong-willed, and dedicated to her job.”
Many caregivers like Cheryl report the need for information about resources and supportive services available to them. Others are aware of some services but need help navigating the complex and often fragmented social service system. Kinship navigator programs like the one offered in Washington state, can offer the support caregivers need to provide the best care for the children they are raising.
*Names have been changed