BY JAIA PETERSON LENT
With growing attention to the phenomenon of grandfamilies, we see increasing numbers of media articles and scholarly research about these families. But if you are a grandparent who has just begun raising you grandchild, where do you start? Luckily, two new resources for grandfamily caregivers are available.
The Kinship Parenting Toolbox: Building off the successful Foster Parenting Tool Box and Adoption Parenting guide, EMK Press released this new publication, which faithfully taps the wisdom and experiences of caregivers and youth in grandfamilies, alongside some of the field’s leading academics, attorneys, and mental health professionals. Written in plain language (even the legal section is easy to understand!), it includes chapters on: parenting children from tough starts, working with schools, legal and financial toolboxes, the teen years, the child’s perspective and a rich section on self care.
It’s also packed with a range of easy reference tools including user-friendly checklists, suggestions for activities, assessment tools, and—my favorite, a cheat sheet of common acronyms used by social service departments. I would have liked to have also seen more content that digs into issues related to preserving cultural heritage, understanding and valuing race and culture differences, and the importance of rituals. Another valuable addition would be a chapter on how to become a policy advocate to improve lives for all grandfamilies. And while the value of relative caregiving is peppered throughout, every caregiver would appreciate a list up front of the top ten reasons children can do well in the care of relatives.
But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered: Resources to complement this rich tool, include:
- Profiles of successful adults raised in Grandfamilies: Grand Successes: Stories of Lives Well-Raised
- Cultural competence training and resources from Black Administrators in Child Welfare: www.blackadministrators.org and the National Indian Child Welfare Association: www.niwa.org.
- Tools and technical assistance for caregiver advocates from Advocates for Families First: http://advocatesforfamiliesfirst.org/
State of Grandfamilies 2014: This concise report from Generations United lays out the complex national data and key demographic information about Grandfamilies in the U.S. in a consumable format. If also features two grandfamily success stories. If you are looking to advocate for grandfamilies, this piece can service as 101 for policy makers, donors, neighbors, friends or anyone you are hoping to educate. While its concise format is its strength, you will need to dig into its references for more detailed resources about special populations and state-specific data. A few supplemental resources to consider include:
- U.S. Census Bureau Report: Coresident Grandparents and their Grandchildren: 2012.
- Annie E. Casey Child Welfare Brief: Stepping Up for Kids: What Government and Communities Should do to Support Kinship Families.
Jaia Peterson Lent is Deputy Executive Director, and Alan King is Communications Specialist, of Generations United (GU), home to the National Center on Grandfamilies, and a leading voice kinship caretakers.