On Their Own Terms: Supporting Kinship Care Outside of TANF and Foster Care. Kinship Support Network



San Francisco, California

Program Development

The Kinship Support Network (KSN) is a comprehensive program designed to fill in the gaps in public social services to relative caregivers and the children in their care. KSN was established in 1994 and is the basic program model for Kinship Support Services Programs currently being implemented in 14 counties around the state.

Mission and Goals

The Kinship Support Network seeks to provide culturally sensitive services that strengthen and support kinship families.

Target Population and Eligibility Criteria

KSN is a voluntary program that serves any kinship care family that resides in San Francisco County. Of those who are referred to KSN by other agencies, about half are referred by either the child welfare or TANF divisions of the Department of Human Services. Referrals are made on a case-by-case basis and there are no pre-established referral criteria.

Organizational Structure

KSN operates under the auspices of the Edgewood Center for Children and Families. KSN has about 40 staff, including 11 "community workers" who provide intensive, individualized case management to kinship caregivers. KSN sponsors several support groups located throughout San Francisco. A separate program component provides services to the caregivers' children. The program has had an on-site medical component (i.e., nurse, psychiatrist) in the past and has plans to do so again in the future. Two child welfare workers are outstationed at the KSN program site. In addition, KSN has established many formal and informal collaborative arrangements with a variety of public and private agencies (e.g., school district, legal services) so that kinship care families participating in KSN have access to many services that are not provided on-site.


The Kinship Support Network provides families a wide array of family support services, including intensive, individualized case management to those needing extra help and attention. For those receiving case management services, community workers conduct a family needs assessment and develop an individualized case plan. Community workers meet with families at least once per month, including routinely conducting visits to the homes of caregivers. Nine "Grandparents Who Care" support groups are held throughout the city, including bilingual groups for Latinos and Koreans. These groups are facilitated by trained professionals or caregivers who have received training. KSN also has a separate service component for the children of kin caregivers which includes age-specific programs for at-risk teens, children between ages 8-12, and younger children between ages 3-5. Services for children and adolescents include tutoring three days a week, life skills instruction, recreational and cultural enrichment activities. Other services offered by KSN include respite for caregivers, advocacy, access to legal services; other resources include an on-site library, computer lab, clothes closet and food bank. In the past, the program has employed a part-time nurse and mental health practitioner who provided services on-site and, pending funding, is planning to have on-site health personnel in the future.

Major Funding Sources

The Kinship Support Network's annual budget is approximately $2.5 million. The Department of Social Services, using Family Preservation, IV-E, and county funds is the largest source of funding. The program also receives internal support from the Edgewood Center as well as state Kinship Support Services Program funds, grants from the County Children's Fund, the United Way, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, TANF funds a grant from the Office of Criminal Justice that provides funding to work with probation officers to identify kinship families.

Key Contact

Ken Epstein
Director, Edgewood Center for Children and Families
1 Rhode Island Street
San Francisco, CA 94103