The theme of the conference is ?Sharing and Caring, Challenges and Triumphs; Resources for Relatives Raising Children.? The conference is free, but pre-registration is required to insure adequate seating, materials and lunch. To register, you may call Jackie Dover at 1-800-392-8771. Or you fill out a registration form on the brochure and mail to SEMO Area on Aging, 1219 N. Kingshighway, Suite 100, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. The registration deadline is November 3rd.
There is a tremendous need for such a conference. Grandparent headed households have increased by 73 percent since 1970. Reasons for this growing social phenomenon include drug and alcohol abuse, unwed teen parents, divorce, illness, unemployment, incarceration, mental health problems, and HIV/AIDS. Regardless of the reason there is a real need for resources for those who assist with raising their grandchildren.
An online article the MissouriFamilies.org website was written by Mary Goshe, Mary Engram, and Phyliss Flanigan. They are University of Missouri Extension human development specialists serving in the Southeast region. This article is entitled, ?Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Trends and Concerns.? This article is located at http://missourifamilies.org/features/par....
They mention many excellent points related to this need. According to the 2000 Census, over 2.4 million grandparents were the primary caregiver of the grandchild. Grandparent caregivers can be divided into three categories. These are (1) Grandparents with legal or formal relationship have gone to court and have acquired this legal status by adoption, guardianship, or custody; (2) Grandparents without legal relationships are providing the basic needs of the child but are not recognized by the court as having any legal rights; and (3) Kith and kin childcare refers to a grandparent who provides care on a regular basis in the place of childcare or babysitter.
Some trends that they note are that the majority of the children (73 %) living with their grandparents are over six years of age, sixty-three percent of the grandparents responsible for the care of grandchildren are female, and there is a 51 percent increase in the past 13 years in the number of grandchildren living with their grandparents with no parent present.
Three concerns related to grandparents raising grandchildren are poverty, health, and the utilization of community services. The data indicate that grandchildren living only with a grandmother are likely to be in poverty. Custodial grandparents often have health problems and have problems with daily living activities. Many grandparents are unaware of community resources or they feel uncomfortable in receiving public assistance.
The reason that the conference is referred to as a GrandFamily conference is that it includes other family members such as aunts and uncles or other family members who have taken the responsibility of raising a grandchild.
This conference is sponsored by AARP Missouri, Pemiscot county Special School District, Family Support Division of Dunklin and Pemiscot Counties, Southeast Missouri area Agency on Aging, University of Missouri Extension, Pemiscot initiative Network, Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center, Behavioral Health Unit, and three grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. They are Janice Devore, June Majors, and Carolyn Seabaugh. A supervised activity room will be provided for toddlers and preschoolers (2-5 years). Please indicate the number and ages of the children that you will be bringing.
The conference will begin with registration and a continental breakfast. This will be followed with a welcome and introductions. Beverly Wilburn will present ?A Granddaughter?s Story.? There will be a panel discussion with Janis Traughber, MPACT- educational resources/special needs; Kim Collins-behavioral issues with young children; Trina Hollomon, Family Support Division-financial assistance and health care; and Jerry Parrish TRCC Program Director of Behavioral Health Services-behavioral issues with school aged children and teens.
Lew Polivick, Director of Legal Services of Southern Missouri will discuss legal issues. Diane Hall, MO AARP Associate State Director for Community Outreach will discuss Benefits QuickLINK. Lunch will be provided. Following lunch, Grandparents sharing will be June Majors, Jan Devore, Carolyn Sebaugh, and others. There will be a grandparent?s recognition, evaluations, and door prizes.
The conference sponsors hope that this conference will be helpful in providing information to relatives raising grandchildren and providing support. It is also hoped that we can build upon this conference and make this a continuing event.
University of Missouri Extension programs are open to all.
Dr. Michael R. Milam is an agronomy
specialist and county program director with
University of Missouri
Extension in Dunklin County.