The United Way of Southern West Virginia, in partnership with West Virginia State University and 20+ other community partners, will be kicking off Raleigh County’s first “Healthy Grandfamilies Project” this fall. This program is supported by West Virginia State University and funded in part by United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The aim of the program is to provide support and resources to grandparents who are raising one or more of their grandchildren. In Southern West Virginia, the opioid epidemic has caused a stark increase in the number of children being raised by grandparents. In Raleigh County alone, the number of children living with grandparents is estimated to be 1,743. Across the state, 20.9% of these grandfamilies are estimated to live below the poverty line, and 33.6% of grandparents raising grandchildren have some sort of documented disability. West Virginia is in 2nd place in the percent of children living with a custodial grandparent. However, these grandparents continue to be an underserved population.
The Raleigh County Healthy Grandfamilies Project will begin enrolling grandfamilies to their program in August. Families enrolled will then be able to participate in free educational discussion groups on topics relevant to them, such as parenting, communicating, health literacy, self care, navigating legal/school systems, social media, and much more. In addition, this group allows grandparents to realize that they are NOT alone. There are MANY other families just like them. We want to connect Grandparents to each other in order for them to lean on one another for support. Grandparents will also receive case management by a social worker to help them locate community services, confidential assistance in addressing unmet family needs, and providing advocacy services.
Beginning in early Fall, grandfamilies will meet once weekly for discussion and support groups. While the meeting is occurring, childcare will be provided as well as a hot meal served. Families for this program will be recruited through county school system, as well as through DHHR referrals.
If you would like to VOLUNTEER to help provide childcare for 1.5 hours a week during the workshops, would like to help with meal prep, or would like to refer a Grandfamily (even yourself!) for this project, contact Christina Cowley, Community Impact Coordinator at United Way of Southern West Virginia, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 304-253-2111.
For more information about the state-wide Grandfamilies movement, you can visit http://healthygrandfamilies.com/