Grandparents and other relatives facing the challenges of caring for a second family can get much needed assistance in meeting those challenges during the “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” conferences in June.
In Montana there is a growing trend of grandparents who are called upon to be the primary care givers to their grandchildren. According to the most recent state-specific US Census data, Montana is currently ranked ninth in the nation for the increase in grandparents raising grandchildren from 1990 to 2000. Nationally, the number of grandparents raising grandchildren has risen sharply since the onset of the recession in 2007, according to a new Pew Research Center study that said one in 10 U.S. children now lives with a grandparent.
As a result of increasing need, Montana State University Extension has teamed up with AARP Montana and several other state agencies and organizations to form the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Project. The Project not only sponsors the conferences, but also provides resources -- including informational guides, seminars, newsletters and support groups for grandparents who are faced with the challenges that come with raising their grandchildren.
Today, in Montana more than eleven thousand children under age 18 live in grandparent-headed households. Of the children living in households headed by grandparents, 3,026 have neither parent present and the grandparents are responsible for their needs. There are another 3,511 children living in households headed by other relatives. Of grandparents responsible for grandchildren living with them, 44% have no parents of the children living in the household, 63% are under age 60, and 20% live in poverty.
The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren conferences will be held in Great Falls on June 11 and in Billings on June 25. Under the theme “Communication", professionals from all over the state will present on a variety of topics -- including technology and internet safety, how to talk to children about parents, and working with school personnel. In addition, the conferences will feature interactive panel discussions to explore in detail specific issues concerning grandparent families.
Find more Montana-specific information about grandparents raising grandchildren.
The keynote presenter at the Great Falls location will be Anna Whiting Sorrell, Director of the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services. Denise Juneau, Superintendent of Public Instruction, will be the Keynote Speaker at the Billings event.
A resource fair featuring exhibitors ranging from nonprofits to government agencies will be open during the conferences.
“We are sponsoring these conferences, in partnership with the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Project, because these grandparents face unique challenges,” said Joy Bruck, AARP Montana State President. “It is important to support these guardian angels. They provide a loving environment for children who might otherwise end up in foster care. Children raised by their grandparents are able to stay with their own families – which makes a world of difference to that child.”
Registration is $20 for a single grandparent or $30 for a grandparent couple and includes lunch. Free childcare will be provided upon request at the conference.
There are a limited number of free registration and travel scholarships available. For more information contact the Montana GRG Project at (406) 994-3395 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or download a printable brochure.