In Los Angeles County, more than half of the nearly 20,000 children placed in a formal foster care arrangement by DCFS are cared for by a family member, also known as, Kinship Care.

According to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), in South LA there are 2,500 children in formal Kinship Care with thousands more being cared for informally (outside of the child welfare system) by their relatives. Community Coalition reports that 54% of children DCFS places with family members are Latino while 31% are Black – although Black children comprise only 8% of the total county child population.

Relative caregivers are advocating for continuous support of Kinship Care in South LA through the creation of the Kinship in Action Program (KIA). The seeds were planted by Community Coalition and the efforts have taken root by way of a movement complete with loyal and self-sacrificing members. These members are dedicated to fighting for more resources for relative caregivers as well as improving family care in South LA.

Addressing the barriers families encounter to services, Community Coalition is organizing, training and supporting relative caregivers to obtain a Kinship Care Center in South LA, as there are currently none to support the families.

Based on research done by Community Coalition, South LA Kinship caregivers have identified mental health issues – and the lack of accessible / quality mental health services – as one of the leading causes of stress and instability within their families. Furthermore, caregivers want clinicians who are trained to understand the distinctive needs and challenges facing this group.

Community Coalition has commissioned SHIELDS for Families, Inc. (SHIELDS) to provide an additional necessary branch to the improvement of family care through the provision of quality mental health services offered to the community and relative caregivers.

SHIELDS provides individual, family and group therapy services as well as workshops that address: wellness, parenting, child development, trauma, grief and loss, stress management, emotional support and DCFS navigation in addition to many other services. SHIELDS also facilitates a variety of support groups for the families as well as caregiver-centered events.  Most recently, families participated in a fun and successful Halloween/ Dia de Los Muertos gathering and this month a Thanksgiving celebration.

Community Coalition and SHIELDS are equally committed to the advancement of the communities that they serve and have partnered to assist in cultivating the growth of this exciting and healthy branch for the community and a new leaf on the tree of success for relative caregivers.

If you are a caregiver or know of any caregivers who are in need of English or Spanish-speaking Kinship Care assistance, please contact:

SHIELDS for Families
Artia Thomas-Brooks, MFTI
Community Coalition
Melody Darden