According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in Alaska more than 5,000 grandparents have taken on the responsibilities of raising their grandchildren, often in situations where the parents are unable to provide the proper care.
“Grandparents who become the primary caregiver face a unique set of challenges,” said Christina Lowther, Volunteers of America Grandfamilies Network Coordinator. “Raising a second family in a situation that most often is a result of trauma can disrupt their lives and disrupt the child’s during critical stages of development.”
In Alaska, the Volunteers of America Grandfamilies Network Project assists grandparents who take on this role. Through resources and support groups they connect families facing similar challenges and help children find stability and feel safe and nurtured despite their situations.
Each month, the Grandfamilies Network Project organizes a monthly “Grands Brunch,” which provides grandparents some down time to share and socialize while their grandchildren play, do crafts, read books, and spend time with other children of similar backgrounds. To foster early learning, families can take home age-appropriate books donated by Scholastic Books, Inc. They also have access to libraries containing books that help children identify with their situations and learn how to verbalize their emotions.
To learn more and find out how you can get involved, visit www.voaak.org