Kinship Resources for Legal Services
If you are a grandparent or relative caregiver and need help to navigate legal concerns or resolve a serious issue for the child, you are not alone. There are many free and low cost resources, including legal staff on hand, that can help you to move through challenges and provide the best resolution for your family.
California courts offer free and low cost legal resources, including free help from a family law facilitator or a self help center. Family law facilitators are lawyers with experience in family law who can help with forms, referrals, and things like domestic violence or custody issues. Self help center services are free, and despite their name, have court lawyers and staff on hand. Note, these staff members do not act like a personal lawyer — there is no confidentiality requirement, for example.
Additionally, the California courts website offers self-help resources covering topics like adoption, child custody and visitation, and guardianship, among many others. These include helpful guides and links to services that might be helpful in the meantime.
Self Help Centers
As mentioned above, kinship caregivers can take advantage of local self help resources — there are links to each county’s online self help centers via the California Courts website. On each county’s website there are a host of services and legal resources and recommendations. Just a few of the options include a listing of the self help center on-site locations, contact information for lawyers, and a phone number to speak to someone directly.
In addition to receiving county-level support, grandparents and relative caregivers can reach out to statewide agencies like Legal Aid at Work and Catholic Charities USA. Legal Aid At Work offers hotlines, resources, and more personal legal support if needed. Catholic Charities provides resources for many different needs, including family challenges. Caregivers can find their local California Catholic Charity here and reach out directly to see what might be available in their situation.
Alliance for Children’s Rights
There are many organizations that specifically address kinship and foster care needs. One of these is the Alliance for Children’s Rights, which advocates for children, young adults, and families within foster care or kinship care and provides free legal support. The alliance works with pro bono partners to provide legal services to families who are adopting children from the foster care system. It works closely with Children and Family Services, and will represent kinship caregivers in probate court in regards to legal guardianship.
Area Agency on Aging
For grandfamilies, there are local Area Agencies on Aging that might provide legal assistance for kinship care issues. There are different Area Agency on Aging websites for each county. For example, California residents in the Napa/Solano area can visit this website for more information. There is an additional guide resource guide here.
Advokids is an organization dedicated to advocacy and protection for foster children, with a particular focus on providing legal resources. Kinship caregivers can take advantage of the free telephone hotline, and Advokids’ staff attorneys and pro bono attorneys provide assistance with appeals and amicus briefs. The organization additionally fights for statewide child welfare reform and provides training and conferences to help support the needs of children in kinship and foster families.