In Nevada County, between the years 2007-11, out of 67,888 children, 1,181 were being raised at some point before their 18th birthday, by their grandparents. Of these children, 238 were living with their grandparents for more than five years. If you’re a grandparent raising your grandchildren, you’re not alone.
If you’re another caregiver, whether a foster parent, a single father, an aunt or uncle (and the list goes on), you’re also not alone.
Statistics show that numbers of grandparents and other caregivers raising children are on the rise, and these caregivers often feel disconnected when they don’t realize there are other people living in their community who are in the same situation.
Grandparents Mike and Karen Bayer, who strolled into the PARTNERS Family Resource Center at Ready Springs Elementary School in Penn Valley, said “We believe parenting is the most important job in the world, and that no one should have to do it alone.”
After asking them what made them return to the resource center, they immediately replied, “Casey (center staff member) made us feel so welcome and the free coffee and chance to socialize with other families was great.”
However, one of the best parts of coming into the Family Resource Center, they said, was being referred to the Nevada County Foster Kinship Care Education Program because that’s where they finally met other grandparents raising their grandchildren, and the sense of camaraderie and being connected to others in the same situation was wonderful.”
Mike and Karen also enrolled in the 2nd Step Parenting Classes because they said, “We’re older, so the way we were raised, and the way we taught our children was different than the way parents are raising their kids today. If we misbehaved as children, we got the belt. In this class we learned that you don’t have to be forceful to get through to your children. There are other ways to discipline them.”
Mike also said, “I felt a little uncomfortable coming into the FRC because I didn’t want to feel like I was doing something wrong or feel like I was getting a hand-out with any help I received … I guess you could say it was a ‘male-pride’ thing, but then I realized I’m helping people in the same situation and saw that it was okay to get help.”
Lacking information about the range of available support services, resources and programs can make the task of being a successful caregiver difficult, which is why the resource centers are so important for our community. In addition, to better serve children, families and older adults, educators and program practitioners need access to information about these key resources, which is one goal of the Family Resource Center, to spread the news about all the resources available in the county.
For information regarding the Nevada County Foster Kinship Care Education Program, please call Melissa Marcum at 530-470-8510, ext. 202. For information about the PARTNERS Family Resource Centers, please visit http://partnersfamilyresourcecenters.com.
Laurie Blakemore is an AmeriCorps V.I.S.T.A. (Volunteer In Service to America)