New grant funds to be finalized early this year will expand Kinship Center’s partnership with First Five Monterey County in providing services that strengthen parenting skills and build successful family functioning for at-risk families. The goal is to work with families before they reach a crisis that can result in having children removed from their homes into the public child welfare system.

“We’re excited to be able to serve families we haven’t been able to reach before,” says Kinship Center Regional Mental Health Director Laura Ornelas, LCSW.  “Through parent education, playgroups and specialized home visits, we will be able to focus on prevention. Kinship Center is pleased to be collaborating with First Five and their community partners.”

Shown above: Kinship Center staff prepare the playroom in a former firehouse in East Salinas. Kinship Center will also offer intensive professional services to families of children with backgrounds of severe trauma, as Kinship Center has done in its four statewide children’s clinics for several decades, says Ornelas. But a new focus on prevention programs will help stabilize families and prevent disruptions.

Kinship Center’s unique approach to creating stability for children has always involved the whole family.  Through the First Five partnership, a parent class, “Pathways,” will target caregivers of children in foster, adoptive and relative homes who have experienced loss. Parent-child playgroups and home visits by Kinship Center licensed professionals will provide extra support and skill building for parents.

Kinship Center’s services will help troubled families gain the information, skills and support they need to lessen the effects of children’s trauma, and to build family strength and success.

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