By Naomi Riggins
SAN BERNARDINO, CA- Westside Christian Center Church, located at 785 N. Arrowhead Avenue in San Bernardino is the home of Westside Kinship Support Services. Many grandparents, and other relatives are providing care to children who are unable to live with their birth parents. When situations arise and a child can no longer safely reside with their birth parent/legal guardian, Children and Family Services (CFS) first looks for those who are familiar to the child to provide care. Relatives and family are usually known to a child and by providing a safe and nurturing environment, can often help ease the trauma of separating from a birth parent.
Westside Kinship Support Services (WKSS) was created to ensure that caregivers who open their heart and their home will never feel alone and helpless. Our program provides a place where caregivers can receive a wealth of resources, training and support. Kinship’s focus is to strengthen and develop viable support systems for the caregiver which helps to promote a stable home for the lives in their care. WKSS offers weekly (morning and evening) support groups—Tuesday mornings at 10:00 am; and Thursday evenings at 6:00 pm. WKSS also offers fun and educational activities for youth and independent living skills for teens.
Caregivers often have special needs linked to age, poverty, poor health, social isolation, and inadequate access to information and services. As with most social services programs, our program receives limited funding. . With state tax dollars constantly in short supply, the pressure for cuts is always immediate and pressing. As a result, we endeavor to solicit funding each year from community partners. It is vital that the child welfare community becomes more aware of, and helps support, kinship families outside of the formal child welfare system. Child welfare policy makers and administrators can use information from this report to learn more about the demographic characteristics of kinship caregivers, as well as what services and supports they find most necessary and helpful. Instituting policies and programs that provide basic, front-end support could help prevent caregivers and kinchildren from approaching crisis.
If you provide 24/7 care for a relative child, there are benefits that you may be eligible to receive. Caregivers that are living in San Bernardino and surrounding areas (Colton, Highland, Redlands, Loma Linda, Yucaipa and other areas) are encouraged to apply. Give them a call today at the Westside Kinship Support Services Office (909) 889-5757 or contact them through their Website:www.westsidechristiancenter.net or you may access additional information about Kinship at www.cakinship.org.