FAIRMONT, W.Va. – A social program with roots in Harrison County is now expanding to two neighboring counties.

“Healthy Grandfamilies” is an initiative of West Virginia State University that provides help and resources for grandparents who raise their own grandchildren.

West Virginia now ranks second nationwide for having the most children raised by at least one grandparent.

The Healthy Grandfamilies program held an orientation Monday for stakeholders in Fairmont as the initiative spreads to help Marion and Taylor Counties.

“We’ve got an epidemic in the state of West Virginia for our children,” extension specialist Bonnie Dunn said. “Who’s raising them? Who’s taking care of them? Who’s giving them morals and ethics and values and helping them with their homework? We have a problem and we’re trying to address that problem through this program model.”

Dunn said with the state’s help, the program looks to expand to all 55 West Virginia counties. Right now, there’s more than a dozen counties with a Healthy Grandfamilies program.

“It’s a collaboration between not only the professionals, but also the faith-based community, the board of education, any organizations that impact children,” The Family Service of Marion and Harrison Counties, Inc. executive director Carolyn Jones said.

Jones said the initiative is made possible with help from the United Way of Marion and Taylor Counties, The Family Services of Marion and Harrison Counties, Inc., The Taylor County Board of Education, Marion County Schools and Healthy Grandfamilies and West Virginia State University.