Kinship Navigator Success
Maria, a grandmother from Honduras, cares for two granddaughters, 18-year-old Elma and 14-year-old Yesenia, as well as Elma's 2-year-old son, Emanuel. Yesenia has lived with her grandmother for 6 years and has adjusted well. Elma, after living in various foster homes, came into Maria's care 2 years ago when she was 16 and pregnant. According to Elma, she had never experienced stability until moving in with her grandmother.
Struggling financially and needing help with parenting, Maria was referred to the Encore Parenting Project in Long Beach, CA, in September 2010. The project, a kinship navigation program that provides an array of services for kinship families, is the result of a collaboration among Aspiranet, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Grandparents as Parents (GAP), and California State University, Long Beach.
"Before I was referred to Encore, I was happy to have Elma with me but felt very pressured financially. Every month was a battle," Maria remarked. Shortly after requesting services from the Encore Parenting Project, Maria lost her part-time job and could no longer cover all of her monthly expenses.
Angelica, a navigator with the Encore Parenting Project, helped Maria obtain services. Angelica helped Maria understand her financial benefits, clarified her funding eligibility, and referred her to the CalWORKs program. When the family's financial benefits were terminated by mistake, Angelica applied for a GAP emergency grant and worked with the DCFS Kinship Resource Center to secure emergency aid to pay the family's rent. Angelica also advocated for Maria with Maria's landlord, which prevented the family from being evicted. According to Maria, "Once I was involved with the [Encore] program, I felt more supported because Angelica, the navigator, helped a lot."
Angelica also worked with Elma, connecting her to counseling and mentorship services. Now Elma is on track to graduate from high school, is parenting Emanuel, and has been accepted to California State University, both at Long Beach and Bakersfield.
Maria attended courses that helped her parent her teenage granddaughters and now participates in weekly GAP support groups led by Angelica. Maria said, "The classes and support groups have helped the most. I can communicate better. I've felt support, and I've been able to help myself better. There has been moral support and orientation that I did not have before."
Maria told her navigator: "I'll never be able to pay you back for all the help I've received."