Q&A with Jay Allen President & CEO – Wayfinder Family Services

Wayfinder Family Services President & CEO

What are your thoughts about Wayfinder’s 70th anniversary in 2023?
I am honored to lead such a strong, innovative organization that has
a tremendous impact on children, adults and families. We measure Wayfinder’s success over seven decades by the hundreds of thousands of people who have achieved their personal goals through our programs. And Wayfinder never stands still. For 70 years, we have created programs in response to the needs in our communities and adapting our services to reflect what clients want from us.

You said that Wayfinder never stands still—what are the newest programs?
I am very excited about two new initiatives. First is the addition of a Navigator program to our Child Development Services. This Family Resource Navigator program provides life-changing early intervention to children with visual or multiple disabilities and their families. In the Navigator program, Wayfinder navigators seek out parents of infants born prematurely or with medical complications in neonatal intensive care units at hospitals in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, as well as subacute units and high-risk infant clinics. Our team of navigators is helping parents determine which services their child with disabilities needs and who offers the service. Our goal is to reach 2,000 children, ages 0-3, over two years. The Navigator program will reduce developmental delays in children and provide their families with guidance and support on their journey.

Plus, I’m very pleased that Wayfinder has added its first program for seniors with vision loss: Older Individuals who are Blind, or OIB. Vision loss in older adults can reduce their ability to care for themselves, live independently and navigate their community. Wayfinder is providing adults ages 55+ who are visually impaired with training in areas like the use of assistive technology, orientation and mobility to get around in their communities, and more. Each client receives one-to-one instruction that is based on their individualized service plan. I am confident that OIB is going to make a substantial impact on seniors with vision loss, who will gain independence and self-sufficiency.

What can you tell us about ongoing programs?
I am humbled daily by the “Wayfinder moments” that I hear about from across our programs. These small moments remind us why we do the work: A young woman in our Mental Health Services finally opened up to her mother, and they began to heal their relationship. A child who is blind gained so much confidence by learning archery at Camp Bloomfield this summer. A child in foster care who thought he had been forgotten by his family was welcomed by his long-lost aunts and cousins. The relatives had not known where he was until a Wayfinder social worker connected them. This is why we cannot stand still.



Wayfinder Family Services ensures that children, youth and adults facing challenges always have a place to turn. This mission is guided by our values:

Inclusive – We stand up in support of equity and social justice, and we stand against injustice and racism. We strive to build an equitable world for our clients and staff.

Empathetic – We seek to develop a deeper understanding of our children
and families. We work to embed empathy into our decision-making, interactions and actions.

Collaborative – We can’t do it alone and we must do it together. We work in partnership to address the holistic needs of children and families.

Whatever it takes – We never give up. We will always be there for our children and their families.

Innovative – We are agile and forward-thinking. We continually seek out better ways to help children and families thrive.

Driven – We take every opportunity to move forward in our strategic direction and to create meaningful change.

Family – We provide families with a supportive community and resources so they can thrive. We want every child to grow up in a loving family.

September 27, 2023