Kinship Navigator Program
The Kinship Navigator Program was created to provide assistance to relatives who are caring for an absent relative's child or children. The implementation of this program coincides with New Jersey's fiscal year which means that it begins anew on July 1 and ends on June 30. Program recipients must apply every year even if they received benefits the year before.
Register with NJ 2-1-1 to Apply or Learn More
If you are providing direct care for children who are your nieces, nephews, cousins, siblings or grandchildren and their parents are not able to care for them (perhaps because the parents have died, are incarcerated, or are unfit due to other reasons) you may be eligible for assistance through this program. To find out more, dial 2-1-1 and speak with a call specialist who will be able to register you so that you may apply for the program. Once registered your information is transmitted to a local Kinship Navigator agency. Someone from that agency will then contact you to determine if you are eligible and help you to apply for the support that is available through the program.
Kinship Navigator Agencies Help in Three Ways
Staff help caregivers "navigate" other forms of government assistance
- Kinship staff determine if the caregiver is eligible for Kinship Navigator Wrap-Around Program benefits (vouchers for the child's necessities)
- Kinship agencies provide technical support and guide the family through the process of Kinship Legal Guardianship if the caregiver wishes to make a legal commitment to the child.
Kinship Navigator Staff Helps Find Assistance
Kinship Navigator agency staff members will help you "navigate" established support services that are provided by the government and private agencies so that you will be able to benefit from programs for which you are eligible. Depending upon your particular circumstances, services may include:
- referrals to grandparenting and family support groups
- help with getting medical coverage and services
- assistance with child support collection
- housing assistance
- help with paying for legal services/fees
- help to pay for furniture (for example, a bed, a computer, computer supplies for the child)
- tutoring services for the children in your care
- help with paying for summer camp for the child
Wrap Around Services
Kinship Navigator Agency staff will also be able to determine if you qualify for help with short-term or one-time expenses like furniture, moving costs and clothing for the child under your care. Financial eligibility guidelines change every year and are dependent upon the caregiver's age and the size and income of the family. The Wrap Around Program provides caregivers with vouchers to pay for necessities that are not available through existing programs. For example, the program may help with expenses related to:
- clothing for the child
- furniture for the child
- housing and legal fees (for KLG only)
- summer camp costs
Download the Wrap Around Services Fact Sheet to learn about the documentation needed to apply for this service and current income eligibility guidelines.
Kinship Legal Guardianship Program
The third component of the Kinship Navigator Program is the Kinship Legal Guardianship (KLG) Program. To obtain legal guardianship, caregivers must have been caring for a child for at least one year and be willing to be responsible for the child until the child reaches the age of 18 (21 if the child is disabled). Caregivers who have legal guardianship may also be eligible for a subsidy.