Grandfamilies: Grandparenting Tips
As the world is becoming more challenging, kinship care providers are needing more support of education and tools for managing resources. One of the best resources for education and data is the organization, Generations United. One of the key findings in the 2023 annual report is the facts regarding the increase of kin care due to substance use. Between 2002 and 2019, grandparents reporting parents’ substance use as a reason for caregiving jumped from 21% to 40%. The states with the highest percentages of grandparents raising grandchildren are also the states with the highest opioid prescribing rates. Research has indicated that opiate dependence may have relapse rates as high as 91%,98 and for those with alcohol dependence, relapse happens within one year for up to 70%.
For resources check out: GU_2023-Grandfamilies-FullReport-FINAL.pdf
Tips for Kinship Caregivers
Grandfamilies & Kinship Support Network Subject Matter Expert Dr. Joseph Crumbley offers strategies that you can use to help kin/grandfamily caregivers adjust and adapt as they navigate new family dynamics in their role as primary caregivers. In this tip sheet, you will find tools to support our caregivers and the children they care for. Check out the full document for great hints and usable tools.
Adoption and Guardianship
Generations United with support from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, created the included brief of Illinois state-specific information that has a focus on adoption and guardianship for children in kinship foster care so that these children can exit foster care into permanent families. The brief provides general information about the two options, how they differ, and trends in state law as they impact these options. It is important that caseworkers, relative caregivers, older children, and their birth parents understand the two options and determine, based on all the information, what is best for their particular child and family.
November is National Adoption Month
Be prepared. National Adoption Month is coming this November. The Child Welfare Information Gateway is offering tools to support the issues related to the process of adoption, especially teenagers. Pursuing adoption for teens in foster care requires engaging young people every step of the way. Find updated resources that can help you take action in supporting youth in setting and achieving their permanency goals.
- Discover new relationship-building tools and strategies from Children's Bureau grantee research. Learn about projects focused on building relationships with teens; understanding the impact of trauma, separation, and loss; and preparing teens and adoptive families for permanency.
- Use the youth engagement resources to create a welcoming space for youth to explore their identity. Find resources for youth by youth, that highlight the experiences of foster care, as well as strategies to empower youth and promote well-being.
September is Kinship Month
In history, kinship care has been common in many communities of color to sustain family relationships and preserve the culture and history. Our research shows that placing children in kinship reduces family separation trauma and helps children maintain a sense of family, belonging, and identity. It also supports reunification efforts. During Kinship Care Month a demonstration of the community commitment to a family-centered child welfare system helps recognize the importance of kinship placement and the support of kin caregivers. Working together, we can all provide caregivers and agencies with the resources and tools they need to improve reunification positive long-term outcomes.
Visit: September is Kinship Care Month! (govdelivery.com)
Tips for Kinship Success
As the number of grandparents and other kin providing homes and family to the children of parents experiencing substance use disorder and/or mental health, the decision regarding fostering and potential adoption is increasing. It is reported by Grandfamilies.org that in 2021 Illinois had over 85,000 children being raised in kinship homes with no parent present. It is also reported that for every child reported in kinship there are 10 not officially reported. The month of May was National Foster Care Month. As we move into June it may be the time to learn more of how to support our families and the children in care. Decisions to take guardianship or adopt is life changing and for many, one created by substance misuse of parents or caregivers. The Illinois Dept. of Children and Family Services (DCFS), has published a document to assist in understanding the decision process of kinship care through fostering and/or adoption. Support the future of your families impacted by substance use disorder.
For more information check out: cfs-1050-43-making-the-a-g-decision.pdf (illinois.gov). and Illinois GrandFacts State Fact Sheet 2021 Update.pdf (grandfamilies.org)
Mental Health Support in Foster Care
The Child Welfare Gateway and the Children’s Bureau remind us that during this Mental Health Awareness Month we need to remember the mental health our younger family members, especially those in kinship or foster care.
Check out their resources on: May is Here! It's National Foster Care Month (govdelivery.com)
Learning About Emotions
If you are one of many who are helping young family members through a "tough" time in kinship care, emotions are a daily concern for you and your young ones. Encourage your child to talk about their emotions, whether happy or sad or angry. Help your child learn words to describe them. Managing emotions is key to mental health and happiness. Learning how to manage feelings is so important. When kids have big emotions, it may be difficult for them to listen and learn in that moment. Step back and give them some space to calm down. Then talk about what happened and how they might handle it differently next time. This is a "ah ha" moment for them to learn from their experience. It's helpful to talk about feelings when things are calm and children can practice how to manage emotions when things get tough. Visit the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to learn more about helping our young ones thrive.
Check out: Managing Emotions | PBS KIDS for Parents
Tools to Help Change
April is coming it brings the National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Just Launched! Take a look at how focus is moving from the challenge to the change this year on the National Child Abuse Prevention Month website. As a caring grandparent, kin relation, caring neighbor or community, learn more about keeping our little ones safe. Check out new prevention resources in English and Spanish that will help you support families. Visit today and learn more about this year's theme: Doing Things Differently: Moving from the Challenge to the Change.
The California Surgeon General offers this tool to address the stress in our lives. Use this tool on your daily recovery journey. Bust those stressors and support your health. As the primary caregiver taking self-care is so important. Your life changes when you become a kincare family. To best navigate the journey, lessen your stress and take time to relax, laugh and be grateful.
Grandparents and other kinship caregivers are heroes to help our children live a safe and healthy life. As the holidays approach, it is important to help them experience the traditions and rituals offered by a safe and strong environment. Helping kids understand and show gratitude is not always an easy task. PBS Kids for Parents website offers Thanksgiving tools to explore all there is to be thankful for by building a festive and fun gratitude garland with your family. Be sure to make enough leaves for everyone in the family to participate.
Visit: Make a Grateful Garland With Your Family |… | PBS KIDS for Parents.
Grandfamilies & Kinship Support Network Launches Website!
The Grandfamilies & Kinship Support Network: A National Technical Assistance Center has launched its new website. Check it out to find a variety of resources. The resource library will keep growing, so please visit often to discover more. Visit NOW! at www.GKSNetwork.org!
If your family structure changed due to parents' inability to fill the role because of substance use, take a look at the tools Sesame Street offers to families. It may help to explore the information and reduce stress and build strong goals for a healthy change. It is a change in a lifestyle and family roles as grandparents begin their caregiving journey.
As a parent/caregiver one of your most important goals is to build responsible children who become successful adults. The Child Development Institute offers some information to help you in that teaching role. They recommend the following as a guide.
- Treat your child with respect and care.
- Reinforce the positive.
- Share household tasks and chores.
- Teach money management skills.
- Allow your child to face natural consequences and learn from mistakes.
- When teaching your child a new behavior, give clear simple instructions. Be specific about your instructions.
- Don’t let your child off the hook if they misbehave in school.
- Give your child some space and freedom.
Are you a parent or grandparent looking for childcare? Check out who qualifies to receive free referrals and information about childcare programs from their local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency or online at www.excelerateillinois.com. Referrals to all types of childcare providers - licensed centers, family childcare homes, and group childcare homes as well as license exempt centers and homes are available. Information on quality of care, State licensing and the Illinois ExceleRate system are also available.
Help Your Little One Succeed
As grandparents we may assume many roles. One may be as the primary caregiver. If that is your role, most likely your “grandkid” needs some help with building resilience in their life. Sesame Street in Communities offers tools to support this achieve this goal.
Building Healthy Emotions
PBS KIDS advises parents to support our children in these changing times. Helping them name their feelings is one way to support them in understanding how they react to different conditions. When able to talk about how they are feeling, they can work on expressing themselves in positive ways, even when they are upset, frustrated, or angry. Build your relationship with making a “feeling words” book with your child to help recognize different emotions through pictures and words. Keep growing healthy emotions by reviewing the book together and practice talking about different feelings.
Check out PBS at: Create Your Own Feeling Words Book | Crafts… | PBS KIDS for Parents.
Who is there when parents are working on their recovery journey? When the parent focus is on sobriety, children can feel left out. Often the child turns to someone who has shared in some way that they are available making it feel safe for the child to talk. It could be a grandparent, the neighbor who cares, or a coach the child can trust with their “biggest worry.” The goal is to put tools in the hands of caring family/friends they can be a consistent support and be an advocate for the child by helping the addicted parent on their journey. The National Association for Children of Addiction offers important information to support our families and their children. Visit The Power of Forgiveness in Family Recovery - Nacoa for more materials.