The Children’s Service Society recently expanded the Grandfamilies Program to Northern Utah. The new office in Ogden is located at 3340 Harrison Blvd., Suite 130 and will serve families in Weber, Box Elder, Morgan and Rich counties. The services provided include support groups for grandparents, children’s playgroups, case management and crisis intervention.
Grandfamilies is a support, advocacy, educational and crisis intervention program of the Children’s Service Society. The program was created in 2002 to meet the growing needs of individuals and/or families that are caring for a relative’s child. The focus is to provide information and support to these families so that the needs of safety and permanency for the children in these families can be met.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are 82,820 children in Utah who are being raised by a relative. Although the number one reason for this fact is drug use by the a parent, there are also other issues such as poverty, death of the parent, and mental illness.
These children come to their relative’s home with a myriad of issues and caregivers face many obstacles in meeting their needs. Many of these children have been neglected and abused in the homes of their parents. Relative caregivers face barriers such as:
- Access to affordable services for guardianship, custody, and adoption
- Access to financial resources to meet the needs of children they are caring for
- Medical insurance or Medicaid for the child
- Access to enrollment in school for the child
- Lack of respite services
- Lack of affordable child care
- Lack of emotional support
The Grandfamilies program seeks to reduce those barriers. Services of the Grandfamilies programs include:
GRANDFAMILIES FIRST CLASS – a 10-week series of classes that meet weekly throughout the year. Classes meet in various locations to help meet the needs of families. Some of the topics discussed are: unique family dynamics of kinship caregiving, understanding drug and alcohol addiction, understanding your legal rights and how to deal with the emotional issues of the children in your care.
FRIEND 2 FRIEND – a monthly activity and support group that is available to families who have completed the Grandfamilies First Classes. Activites include an annual Holiday Party with Santa, Halloween Party, Easter Egg Hunt, Summer Picnic, free tickets to professional sporting events and other community activities. There are also guest speakers to inform Grandfamilies members on pertinent topics such as domestic violence, legal issues regarding adoption, guardianship and custody, internet safety, and many other subjects or topics of concern.
CHILDREN’S GROUPS – held at the same time as the adult groups. These groups are for children ages 4 through 11. The Children’s groups are psycho-social classes lead by trained professionals. Topics that are discussed are: drug and alcohol prevention, family dynamics, feelings, communication skills, stress reduction, anger management and other social skills.
ADVOCACY and CRISIS INTERVENTION – provided by trained and licensed professionals. Staff is trained to assist clients in obtaining financial assistance for kinship caregivers and Medicaid for children, school enrollment, and interaction with government agencies. They also offer brief solution focused therapy and limited mediation services for families in crisis by mental health professionals.
For more information about the Grandfamilies program, visit cssutah.org or call 801-355-7444.