BUCKHANNON — Providing free resources for grandparents raising their grandchildren, the Healthy Grandfamilies program has started meeting again in Upshur County, and it is not too late to register. The Upshur County Senior Center and the Upshur County Family Resource Network (FRN) are teaming together to bring this statewide initiative offered through West Virginia State University to Upshur County.
This free initiative provides vast information and resources for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. From a 2019 U.S. Census Bureau survey, West Virginia ranked number 2 out of the top 5 states with the highest rates of grandparents raising grandchildren, at 54.4%, noting over half of West Virginia grandparents are raising their grandchildren. According to Lori Ulderich Harvey with the Upshur County FRN, the program is available to any grandparent who has full or part-time care of their grandchild(ren). This includes caring for grandchildren, fostering them or having full custody of them. The grandchild(ren) can be of any age.
Discussion topics at Healthy Grandfamilies meetings will include: parenting in the 21st century, family relationships and dynamics, communication in a world where everyone texts, technology and social media, nutrition, navigating the legal system, stress management, navigating the school system, self-care and health literacy, family response to addiction, trauma-informed care, and professional counseling. Participants of the program can also utilize the free three months of follow-up services, once they have completed the series of discussion groups. These three additional services include help locating community resources, confidential assistance in meeting unique needs of the family, and advocacy services as needed.
Presenters discuss these topics in detail and are available for questions following their presentation. This allows the grandparents to have people available and in-person to answer any questions they may have. It additionally provides them the opportunity to gather and discuss topics with other grandparents who are in the same situation.
Upshur County Senior Citizen Center’s Executive Director Sarah Campbell expressed, “I am very hopeful about the Healthy Grandfamilies program, because I know that we have older adults in our community who have found themselves in the situation of raising their grandchildren and not knowing where to go to for help or information. I really think that this program is going to be just that—a safe place to ask questions and get answers. We want to support our families as they find themselves in this new situation. I believe this program can do that.”
The group meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m., until August 17, at the Upshur County Park Pavilion behind the Buckhannon-Upshur High School football field. Meetings will last from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.