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Kids & Families Together

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services

Mission: Kids and families together has a misson to strengthen relationships and provide safe, supportive help and education that keeps families emotionally connected to one another.

Programs: Early periodic screening, diagnostic and treatment(epsdt). Kids & families together (k&ft) is a provider of childrens medi-cal mental health services through ventura county behavioral health. In this program, the children are our clients. Although we primarily serve children in ventura county, we know that the mental health care that these children receive now will be impactful throughout their lives as they become adults and world citizens. All the children we serve have experienced trauma and have other mental health challenges caused by issues such as loss, grief, abuse, neglect, and/or exposure to harmful drugs and substances. Currently there are approximately 1200 children in the ventura county child welfare system. Although, kids & families together provides mental health services to (continued on schedule o) all ages of children within this child welfare population, ventura county behavioral health has designated k&ft as a specialist in mental health services for children ages 0-5. The children who are part of the child welfare system have been removed, temporarily or permanently, from their primary caretakers and put in to the homes of foster parents or relatives. Approximately 100 of these children are placed in a group home setting because it is challenging to find safe and nurturing homes for them to live. Most often the children in the child welfare population have lived in multiple homes during their time in foster care, which can aggravate the trauma they have experienced. We believe that the unique challenges that these children experience are developmental and behavioral expressions of their interrupted life experiences. K&fts clinical approach is to work with both the children and their caregivers is to create secure bonds. Models used in clinical interventions may include dyadic developmental psychotherapy, theraplay, individual child attachment narrative, trauma focused art therapy, family therapy, and therapeutic parenting groups. At the end of the series of sessions, one 8-year-old boy wrote a note to his therapist saying "thank you for helping me, like, getting better at controlling my anger waves and energy waves. I really, really am thankful that you helped me. I also loved the snacks. I'll miss you!

support, education and training (set) in-home placement training /kindship in-home placement training(ipt/kipt). In collaboration with ventura college and ventura county children and family services, kids & families together provides several support and educational opportunities for caregivers of some of our most vulnerable children. Foster and kinship caregivers within the child welfare system are the clients. Our focus is to stabilize children in the caregivers home so that the exposure to trauma is reduced. Currently, there are approximately 1200 children in the ventura county child welfare system. These are children who have been removed, temporarily or permanently, from their primary caretakers and put into the homes of foster parents or relatives. Foster parents or relative (continued on schedule o) caregivers understand the children in their care is vital to the emotional safety and well being of the children. Often these children have witnessed or been victims of violence and/or abuse and have experienced loss. In addition, the children have often been exposed to alcohol and/or other harmful substances. All this requires that caregivers have knowledge and specialized training to provide a safe and nurturing home. Understanding and practicing self-care is vital to the caregivers ability to remain physically and emotionally healthy while working with the challenges presented by these children. Caregivers that have gone through k&fts programs are called "therapeutic parents meaning that the caregivers have the understanding and skills to support raising emotionally healthy children. Special emphasis is placed on the importance of maintaining the safe relationships that the children may have had in the past, research has shown that reducing the number of personal losses from the childrens life may reduce the childrens experiences of trauma. Kids & families together uses peer partner and educators (ppe) who themselves have had the experience of parenting a foster or relative child. When appropriate, the peer partner & educator can "normalize the caregivers experience of working with children in the child welfare system. Within this program, k&ft trains and supervises marriage and family therapists and clinical social work interns to address the challenges that these children and caregivers may experience. One of our foster moms reports the she has begun to incorporate attachment principles into how she relates with the children. She gave four examples 1) at bedtimes, at the request of the children, she's taken to wrapping the kids up tightly in their bedding and has found that they are going right to sleep without the usual hour of struggle, 2) when the kids are upset she is seeing how matching their emotions helps much more quickly, 3) she works with them in getting tasks done instead of issuing threats of withholding privileges, and 4) she's using "time-ins" when they are really dysregulated, and they calm right down.

kinship support services program (kssp) and prevention and early intervention (pei). Kinship care, sometimes referred to as relative care, is the full-time parenting of children by grandparents, other relatives, neighbors or friends of the family. These kinship caregivers are our clients in this program. Often on fixed incomes, these courageous, caring individuals have stepped in when parents have been unable to raise their own children due to issues such as poor health, mental illness, substance abuse, incarceration or military service. Many of these caregivers are seniors, in poor health, socially isolated, and/or emotionally unprepared to assume the responsibility of children who may have emotional and behavioral challenges resulting from separation and (coninuted on schedule o) loss, multiple placements, prenatal exposure to drugs, and/or abuse or neglect. Beginning in 2010, through its prevention and early intervention initiative, ventura county behavioral health invested on-going funding with k&ft to convene kinship community coalitions. These coalitions inform organizations about the needs of kinship families, work to reduce the stigma associated with mental health services, and develop a network of peer mentors to increase relative caregivers knowledge of, and confidence in, using community resources. In ventura county, 30% of the approximately 1200 children in foster care at any given time are placed with kin; there are almost 6,000 primarily low income grandparents providing kinship care, and hundreds of children are living with aunts, uncles, siblings, and family friends. According to the annie e. Casey foundation, over the past decade the number of children in kinship care grew 18%, 6 times the growth in the number of children in the general population. An aunt who received k&ft kinship support services said, "the first time i called k&ft, i was crying hysterically, but the person who answered didnt hang up. They sent someone to my home to work with me through everything going on with my niece, children, and sister (who was dealing with lots of problems). When i didnt know what to do or where to begin, kids & families together saved me.

1. Permanency support services (pssf). 2. Relational assessment program (rap). 3. Alice's house. Most recently kids & families together has established and provides programs for birth parents that have had children removed through the child welfare system. The "birth parents are the clients and our reunification programs in partnership with ventura county human services agency. When safe and healthy to do so, reunification is the goal of the child welfare system. In ventura county about 35% of children removed are reunited with their families within one year. Kids & families together has developed the "relationship dance, an intensive 18 session psycho-educational program which includes topics such as attachment and trauma, complex or developmental trauma of childhood, disorganized attachment patterns of childhood, parents recognizing their own attachment history, self-care and building the bonds of attachment. This year the program served over 100 families. Prior to children being reunified with their birth parents, there is a period of time when they have an opportunity or are mandated by the courts to have supervised visitations. In collaboration with ventura county human services agency, kids & families together opened the therapeutic visitation center, which offers a comprehensive multi-disciplinary 26 session program. The program includes an assessment of family needs, family support, psycho-educational parent classes, support groups, individual parent mental health as well as parent and child therapy. In its first year of operation, 21 families have completed the therapeutic visitation program. One of clients stated "its been great, ive learned about things that ive never even thought about before. I have also learned a lot about myself. Kids & families together has adopted the framework from the 5 protective factors that strengthen families and protect children. These factors are parent resilience, social connections, supports in time of need, knowledge of parenting, and child development and social and emotional competence of children. In addition our services include trauma informed parenting and the development of secure attachments.

Community Stories

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Cars 4 Causes

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of witnessing David, Faith and their entire team grow this worthwhile venture since 2000. In that time I have seen them bring families together and provide a myriad of meaningful services to foster and adoptive youth in addition to others who fall within our growing definition of "family".

If you are on this site because you are looking to make a meaningful difference and are researching organizations to contribute to, whether it be financial, volunteer or stewardship - I highly recommend Kids and Families Together!