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GrandFamily conference scheduled

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mike Milam
A GrandFamily conference has been scheduled for Friday, November 12 at the Pemiscot County Special School District from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The Special School District is located at 1317 W. State Highway 84 near Hayti, Missouri. This is the second conference organized for grandparents.

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 5th.

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 County Initiative Network Families Support Project, 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. The Keynote Address will be presented by Diane Hall, MO AARP Associate State Director for Community Outreach who will discuss Grandchildren: the Joys and Challenges. Rhonda Bramlett, Nutritionist with the SE Missouri Area Agency on Agency will discuss Low Cost Meals, Energy Drinks, etc.; Money Saving Tips for Families will be presented by Cheyenne Fowler, of LiveWell-Spend Less of Union City, Tennessee. Following the break, Challenging Behavior of Children and Youth will be presented by Tommy Campbell, Chief Deputy Juvenile Officer, Dunklin County. Lew Polivick, Director of Legal Services of Southern Missouri will discuss Legal Issues for Grandparents. Lunch will be provided. Following lunch, Beverly Wilburn will present ?A Granddaughter?s Story.? Grandparents sharing, evaluations, and door prizes will conclude the program.

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.

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