Kinship Center Children's Clinics To Expand Reach Under New Director

On May 21 the Kinship Center D’Arrigo Children’s Clinics in Monterey County welcomed new Director Jill Walker, PhD, who will replace former Director Laura Ornelas, LCSW. Ornelas and her family will be relocating to Los Angeles in June.

Dr. Walker brings experience as a licensed clinical psychologist with a strong background in child development and children’s mental health. A graduate of UCLA, Walker spent nine years with the UCLA Ties for Adoption program in Los Angeles, where she became clinical director. Most recently she has worked as a psychologist with Monterey Peninsula Unified School District’s Birth-to-Five Early intervention Program.

“I’m looking forward to working with a team I respect that has a history of doing so much for children and families in this community,” said Walker. “Kinship Center has a deep understanding of not only the issues surrounding adoption but of all aspects of child development, children’s mental health, and how to create stable, healthy families and childrens’ success. Together we will expand the clinic’s programs to reach children struggling with a broad spectrum of problems impacting their lives at school and at home.”

Dr. Walker plans to continue and grow Kinship Center’s practice of moving treatment out of the traditional clinic setting into “out-of-the-box” therapeutic  venues such as garden, kitchen, art, theater, camp and home settings. “Taking the clinic into the community gives us a better picture of the child as a whole person,” said Walker.“Kinship Center has knowledgeable, committed clinicians who are always looking for ways to help kids learn about themselves and each other.”

Facilitating a closer partnership between Kinship Center and the school system will help clinicians broaden their knowledge base and will help professional educators and parents better understand issues unique to adoption and foster care, Walker says. Clinic professionals are already providing expert consultation to area preschools, through a new Kinship Center clinic in North Salinas that helps at-risk local families build parenting and life skills to keep their children out of the public child welfare system. A face that will soon be familiar at both Kinship Center clinics will belong to Walker’s ‘purebred mutt’, Bentley. “I plan to have him trained and certified for pet-assisted therapy,” she said. “While I’m learning about my new Kinship Center family, Bentley will be making friends with the other Kinship Center therapy dogs. We’ll both be having fun.”    

For more information about Kinship Center's mental health programs, click here.


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