Group to provide support in kinship care

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

People raising young relatives who are not their own children is becoming more of a norm.

In particular, the number of grandparents raising grandchildren is steadily increasing. And they are facing new challenges as they become parents again.

“We want to help with the challenges they’re facing now. They didn’t have to deal with things like screen time and cellphones,” said Jan Dougan, Purdue Extension’s director of health and human sciences for Dubois County. “They may not know how to navigate the school system now, because things have changed so much since they raised their kids.”

Dougan and Rielley Graber, a University of Southern Indiana senior who is a social work intern at Mentors for Youth, are looking to create the Kinship Care Support group, which will allow people in this parental situation to get together to support each other and learn about resources they can use as they raise children again.

“We don’t know if this will turn into a support group or not,” Dougan said. “We’re going to try [it] this month to see if there is interest for one.”

Initial meetings will be held next week in the community room at the Ferdinand Branch Library, 112 E. 16th St. The programs will be held from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday and from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Activities for children will be provided by the library during the caregiver session.

“We will talk about kinship care and the challenges people have when they find themselves in this role. We want to find out from them more about what their needs are,” Dougan said. “We hope to each month, if they want to meet monthly, bring in a community resource to talk to them and let them know about the resources we have here in the community.”

Rielley, who is from Loogootee, said that having such of a support group could have helped her maternal grandparents, Larry and Mary Anne Wools, as they helped her father. (Incidentally, Mary Anne was born and raised in Dubois County.)

“My mother passed when I was 4 years old and that led my dad to raise a 3-, 4- and 7-year-old by himself,” Rielley said. “My maternal grandparents helped my dad tremendously, with raising my sisters and me.”

Her father worked a lot, so the children would stay with their grandparents. “They did not receive any kind of support or services to help them raise us because they were not our legal guardians,” Rielley recalled. “We had a lot of struggles growing up and they did as well, trying to help raise their grandchildren, but I was very fortunate.”

Rielley will graduate from USI next week with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She believes having a group of people going through the same kind of challenges will help the participants.

“Having people in your life that are experiencing similar things provides an easier way for some people to cope,” she said. “It provides another line of advice about the ways they do things that work with caring for their grandchildren. It keeps grandparents from socially isolating themselves. It provides a lifeline, essentially.”

To register for the Kinship Care Support program, contact the Ferdinand Public Library at 812-367-1671 or Purdue Extension-Dubois County 812-482-1782. For planning purposes, also register any children and their ages with the RSVP.

Questions or concerns can be emailed to Dougan at jmdougan@purdue.edu.




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