In recognition of May’s National Foster Care Month, Kinship Center was honored on the steps of the state capital for exemplary work to improve the lives of foster youth.

Kinship Center’s “Family Ties” relative caregiver program, serving both Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties, is one of three programs honored on May 3 by the Foster Care Month Coalition, a statewide advocacy group. Receiving the award is Program Director Charles Chambers, shown here with Family Ties clients Vera Flores (r) and grandaughter Narissa Salazar (center). Cousin Sarina Perez is on left.

“This recognition is a tribute to the local efforts and achievements being made in Monterey County for the betterment of outcomes for foster youth,” said Elliott Robinson, Director of the Monterey County Department of Social and Employment Services.

Kinship Center Family Ties provides critical support services to relatives unexpectedly caring for family members’ children…services that make the difference in the ability of these relatives, often older grandparents, to successfully parent troubled children. Counseling, information and referral, parent education, support groups, children’s mental health services, and emergency services of all kinds help build the capacity of kin caregivers to meet the extreme needs of children who have come from abuse, neglect or abandonment.

The relative support program helps traumatized children remain connected to their extended families rather than being placed in public foster care, says Chambers. Since the inception of Family Ties in 1999, the program has served thousands of children…some 350 a month in Monterey County and close to 100 in San Luis Obispo County.

One such child is 18-year-old Narissa Salazar, who is glad to tell her story.

” I have two siblings, Jessica and Alyssa, who are 21 and 20. We were raised from ages one, two and three by my grandmother. My parents were unable to raise us because of their drug addictions. Family Ties helped us realize we weren’t the only kids without a mother and a father. it is hard explaining to people why you live with your grandmother and not your parents. Family Ties helped us cope with our situation by accepting us like a family. It can get real lonely without a family, but Family Ties is our family.”

The Kinship Center Family Ties program serves all parts of Monterey County through three service facilities in Salinas, Seaside and Greenfield. Kinship Center Family Ties also has a program site in Templeton, which serves San Luis Obispo County families through a network of community collaboration. Click here for more information.

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