Celebrating Grandparents Day: Resources for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
By Michelle Talsma Everson
Sunday, September 12 is National Grandparents Day, a special time to recognize the grandparents in our lives and all that they do. One distinct group of grandparents who are often celebrated on this special day are the grandparents who are parenting a second time around and raising their grandchildren. According to Grandfamilies.org, more than 60,000 grandparents in Arizona are responsible for their grandchildren.
Grandparents may end up raising grandchildren for a variety of reasons, including incarceration, addiction issues, abuse or neglect, death, or other factors. When this happens, many organizations, nonprofits and other resources are there to support these grandfamilies as they navigate challenges like custody, financial resources, support, and more.
Patricia Dominguez, MSW, is the director of kinship services for local nonprofit Duet: Partners In Health & Aging. She has more than two decades of experience working specifically with grandparents and other kinship (family) caregivers through Duet’s grandparents raising grandchildren program, which offers a variety of supportive services to grandfamilies and kinship caregivers in the Valley. She is also a grandparent raising a grandchild, so the issue hits close to home.
“Many of the families in this situation are in distress,” Dominguez says. “Emotions are high and they are often confused as to what is going on. Duet and similar organizations are often the lifelines to making sense of their situation and providing hope.”
“I really appreciate the services that Duet provides. It’s been difficult, trying to navigate the changes that the pandemic brought,” shares Catherine, a grandparent raising grandchildren. “I look forward to participating in upcoming workshops; this is my self-care. The support groups and workshops provide an opportunity for me to step out of my role as a grandparent and connect with others. I see self-care as a teacup. When it is empty, I know that it is time to refill it in order to care for those around me. That is what Duet’s services help me do.”
To help grandfamilies receive needed support, here are resources specifically for Valley grandfamilies and kinship caregivers:
Arizona Family Resources
Available at azfamilyresources.org, this website—supported by AASK (Aid to Adoption of Special Kids)—provides information on the foster care system, which many grandparents raising grandchildren have to navigate. AASK’s website, aask-az.org, also offers kinship licensing, case management and advocacy.
Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors (AZGA)
With more info available at azga.org, the AZGA is a “volunteer support network of grandparents who are raising grandchildren. The group hosts “informative workshops, monthly steering committee meetings and quarterly newsletter for members.”
This easy-to-navigate website serves as a “national legal resource in support of grandfamilies within and outside the child welfare system.” Users can easily navigate a variety of pertinent topics and access an Arizona-specific fact sheet that lists many local organizations that help kinship caregivers. GrandFamiles.org served as a resource for the information in this article.
Duet: Partners In Health & Aging
Duet is a local nonprofit that offers support throughout Maricopa County for grandparents raising grandchildren through free-of-charge support groups, legal guidance and assistance, funds for extracurricular activities, information and guided assistance, educational workshops and grandfamily outings. Learn more at duetaz.org/grandparents-raising-grandchildren.
Arizona Caregiver Coalition
According to the Arizona Caregiver Coalition, “Our sole purpose is to support caregivers and their families. We offer support and help finding access to information, assistance, answers, new ideas and helpful options for you and your loved one.” Through the coalition, grandparents may be eligible for respite reimbursement. Learn more at AZCaregiver.org.
Department of Child Safety (DCS)
DCS offers many resources to kinship caregivers, including a potential stipend and other support services. Visit dcs.az.gov/fosteradoption/kinship-foster-caregivers for more information.
Through the Grandfamily/Kinship Caregiver Program, Benevilla assists Northwest Valley families with “information and referral, support groups, family fun events, educational workshops, newsletters, holiday programs, and individual counseling.” Find out more at benevilla.org/family-resource-center.
Kinship and Adoption, Resource and Education (KARE)
Serving Phoenix and Tucson, KARE offers “Legal support, support groups in English and Spanish, kinship navigation services, recreational activities for families and youth, information, referral and connection services to community resources.” Services vary upon location; arizonakinship.org.
AARP Foundation’s Benefits QuickLink
According to GrandFamilies.org, “QuickLINK, powered by BenefitsCheckUp of the National Council on Aging, offers a free and private way to complete a questionnaire to find out if relatives and/or the children they are raising qualify for certain programs that pay for food, increase income and cover home and healthcare costs.” Grandparents can simply fill out the questionnaire and the website generates a list of programs and contact info. Learn more at aarp.org/quicklink.