Sometimes kinship care, as it is called, is necessary because the biological parents are in jail or are mentally ill. But the overwhelming reason is because the parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
All the warning some grandparents get of having another child to raise is when the hospital calls to say their daughter has flunked the routine drug test. As a result, the hospital will not release her newborn baby to her. Will the grandparents take the child or shall they send it to foster care today? Most grandparents, bless 'em, take the child.
In Kentucky almost 108,000 children under the age of 18 live in homes headed by grandparents or other relatives. Nationally, the number swells to 7.8 million children being raised by relatives, most of them grandparents.
The Grandparents As Parents (GAP) planning committee has stepped up again. The 13th annual Bluegrass Regional Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Conference will be held March 19 at the Clarion Hotel, 1950 Newtown Pike in Lexington. It is open to everyone whether you are raising somebody else's children or not.
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Nine workshops address topics of interest to people with full parental responsibility for children not their own. The keynote speaker is Joseph Crumbley, returning by popular demand, consultant and family therapist who practices in Philadelphia.
The all-volunteer, unpaid planning committee includes several Lexington lawyers, grandparents raising grandchildren, professional social workers and people like me, a journalist/writer who authored a book titled Raising Your Children's Children: Help for Grandparents Raising Grandkids. By the time I had interviewed the grandparents whose stories fill the book, I was in awe of these brave people.
Among the workshops will be an overview of the legal processes applicable to guardianship, custody and adoption, help with children and youth who have experienced trauma, how to identify the signs of drug and alcohol use in youth, and how to keep children safe while using social media responsibly.
Volunteer attorneys will be available at the conference to provide free 30-minute consultations about guardianship, custody, child support and related legal issues to grandparents and other relatives raising children.