Preston Co. Healthy Grandfamilies program to help grandparents raising their grandchildren

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NEWBURG, W.Va. – The Healthy Grandfamilies Program, which helps grandparents adjust to being the sole or primary guardian of their grandchildren, is starting a new session in Preston Co. that will run from March 3 – April 21, 2020.

They will meet weekly at the Newburg Senior Center in Newburg, WV on Tuesdays, from 5:45 – 8 p.m. The Preston Co. Grandfamilies Coalition have been in existence for the last couple of years, Susie Huggins the After School Explorers program Director said. They work with Bonnie Dunn, of West Virginia State University, who has helped create a Grandfamilies Program in all 55 West Virginia counties.

“The goal is to kind of address the needs of grandparents who are suddenly raising grandchildren based on a myriad of things that have happened,” Huggins said. “And they are now in sole custody of a grandchild that they were not expecting to be raising.”

So far, the Preston Co. Grandfamilies Coalition has previously met in Terra Alta and Kingwood to hold sessions for a few weeks. After Newburg, Huggins said they are looking to move to Bruceton Mills next, or in the near future, with the hopes of hosting weekly sessions in as many parts of the county as possible.

Dinner will be offered at the beginning of each session, in addition to on-site childcare and transportation, if necessary. Each week will cover a different topic because there are wide-ranging issues that can come into play once grandparents become the primary providers and caretakers.

“Some of the big issues is budgeting because you have gone from having a household budget and probably fixed income to now a child in a home that needs school supplies and different things,” Huggins said. “With 12 weeks of summer off you own an eating machine and so not only trying to figure out how to keep the lights on in the winter, now you have to keep food on the table in the summer. That kind of changes the budget a little bit when you have an 8-10-year-old boy or girl in the house because like I said they eat. There are some legal issues that the families face and need help with so West Virginia Legal Aid is around.”

A legal issue that is a continuing bother for many grandfamilies, Huggins said, is that many high school seniors want to apply to colleges and cannot because they do not have access to the parent’s W-2s. Other times, the children don’t have social security cards, that is why they work with different organizations to provide the necessary resources to help grandfamilies thrive.

One of the key emphasis of the sessions is managing stress because a lot of grandparents haven’t dealt with children running around the house in over a generation Huggins said. With a new generation of children also comes the subject of technology, which has vastly evolved since many grandparents were children or when they had their own children.

As they move from one town to another, Huggins said, the public has become more receptive to their help.

“We keep growing each time we present,” Huggins said. “I think a lot of agencies are learning about us and trying to kind of network and collaborate. We work quite a good bit with Stormy Matlick, with Preston Co. Schools, in addition to the After Schools Explorers component to make sure that families are getting what they need and help that they need getting kids fed and loved.”

All the sessions are free and have an open enrollment policy. This means those who are interested do not need to have started at the beginning to take advantage of any of the sessions.

“I’m hoping to have a big crowd and looking forward to taking care of Presco families,” Huggins said.

To participate in the program, officials can be contacted by: :

  • email: prestonhealthygrandfamilies@gmail.com,
  • phone: 304-329-0464
  • or Facebook

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