Relative Caregivers Rock!

Posted: June 18, 2011

Highlights of the “Helping Hands Intergenerational and Resource Conference for Grandparents and Other Kinship Caregivers of Children”

By Brenda Rich, The Kinship Institute at Turning Points for Children

“Very, Very!!! Informative” was one of the many written comments from Grandparents and other Kinship Caregivers of Children who gathered together on May 14, 2011 for the “Helping Hands Intergenerational and Resource Conference for Grandparents and Other Kinship Caregivers of Children” held in Philadelphia at the University of Sciences campus. Sponsored by Senator Anthony H Williams, in partnership with Turning Points for Children and Grands as Parents, participants were offered workshops in advocacy, family dynamics of kinship care, custody and the law, and accessing benefits as a kinship caregiver.

Highlights of the conference included a keynote address by Elmer Smith, a columnist and editorial board member at the Philadelphia Daily News, who spoke about his appreciation for his aunt, who stepped in to raise him after his mother passed away. The conference ended with lively interaction between the audience of caregivers and a panel of experts in the fields of justice, education, child welfare, and medicine.

The conference planning committee consisted of persons very invested in kinship caregivers, from the following organizations:

AARP, Grands As Parents, Grand Central, Inc, Grand Family Resource Center, Penn State University, Philadelphia Housing Authority, Salvation Army, The Senior Law Center, the Support Center for Child Advocates, Turning Points for Children, and Senator Anthony Williams office.

As the planning committee reviewed the grandparent conference feedback and discussed next steps, there was consensus that opportunities for grandparents and other relative caregivers to gather together, to share and to learn are invaluable. The plan is to offer additional events to reach and support the many kinship caregivers of children who newly step into that role every day. For grandparents, in opportunities like these, there is strength gained from realizing they are not alone, from learning about what resources are available, and about what resources need their ongoing advocacy efforts.

Along with sponsorship of the Helping Hands Conference, Senator Anthony H Williams has sponsored Senate Bill 119, called the Intergenerational Family Care Act, which would assist families in which children are being raised by their grandparents or other older relatives. Details about SB 119.