Community corner: Grandparents raising grandkids

By Brian Penny, Senior Outreach Coordinator

When it comes to caring for children without a home, many of us are familiar with adoption and the foster care process. But what often flies under the radar is when family members of children that would otherwise go into the foster system step up to care for them. This process is called “kinship care.”

Kinship care is the full-time care of children by family members, close family friends, or other important adults in a child’s life. There are many benefits to placing children with relatives or other kinship caregivers, including increased stability and safety, ability to maintain cultural traditions and family connections, and overall reduced cost for the child welfare system.

Throughout history, families have cared for related children during times of illness, poverty, incarceration, death, violence or other family crises. Many cultures continue this practice to this day, often outside of the social service or court systems. There are currently about 2.7 million kids in the United States residing in kinship care arrangements. An estimated 52,000 are in Michigan.

Today, most child welfare professionals agree that placing children with appropriate kin is the best living situation for children whose parents aren’t able to care for them safely at home. Research suggests that kinship caregivers provide improved placement stability, higher levels of permanency, and decreased behavior problems to children in care. Also children thrive in grandfamilies and do even better when well-supported by services.

There are not, however, many services available for children in kinship care. As anyone who has done it can tell you, raising children as a grandparent is not easy even in ideal circumstances—and circumstances are rarely ideal. Because of that, South County Community Services is committed to supporting grandparents who raise their grandchildren.

Over the past several years, SCCS has led a group, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, that has included financial assistance, group support, and regular activities. This fall we are hosting a mixer/party at The Dome Sportscenter in Schoolcraft to provide information about our services, invite new members to join our group, and put on a fun night for the families whom we serve. If you are a grandparent raising grandchildren and are interested in attending, here are the details:

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Party

When: September 13th, 2023 at 4pm

Where: The Dome Sportscenter

What: Pizza, kid’s activities, financial assistance, information on services for seniors

Who: Grandparents (aged 55 or older) who are raising relative grandchildren (18 years of age or younger)

Please call me (Brian) at 649-2901 ext. 7 to RSVP.

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