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Resources, Support Provided to Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Two informational conferences were held in late March to provide resources and support for grandparents raising grandchildren and other young relatives. The Centre in Rolla was the site of the Phelps County GrandFamily Informational Gathering and First United Methodist Church in Poplar Bluff housed the March 25 Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Conference.

“Grandparents and the grandchildren they are raising need support now more than ever,” said Diane Hall, AARP Missouri associate state director for Community Operations. “There are many joys for grandparents raising grandchildren, but there are also significant challenges that range from financial to emotional.”

GrandFamily Informational Gathering in Rolla

The GrandFamily Informational Gathering opened with a keynote presentation by R. Diane Hall, AARP Missouri associate state director for Community Operations. Her address was titled “GrandFamilies: A Legacy of Love.” Four workshops rounded out the day that included a complimentary lunch and on-site recreational day care for children who accompanied their grandparents.

The first workshop was “Helping Kids through Traumatic Times”, presented by Mary Beth Myers, Ph.D., coordinator of Education and Training and a Missouri advance certified substance abuse professional with Prevention Consultants of Missouri. Jeff McKune, who has 25 years experience in information technology, led a session on “Internet Savvy Grandparents.” The third session featured Michelle Hoffman, a United Way 2-1-1- resource specialist, who discussed “Accessing Community Resources Through 2-1-1.” The final session of the day focused on “Legal Issues” presented by Emily Woodward, Esq., attorney with Birdsong, Mills & McBride, P.C.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Conference in Poplar Bluff

At this event, Hall again delivered the keynote opening presentation after the 8:30 a.m. registration. Educational seminars kicked- off with a session titled “Challenging Behavior of Children” presented by Julie Thomas of SEMO Behavioral Health. Sarah Jane Faughn of the Butler County Health Department presented “A Balanced Diet Based on A Balanced Budget,” and Dr. Martha Margreiter of Poplar Bluff Pediatrics addressed “Grandchildren’s Health Issues.”

Afternoon sessions were presented by Michele Lane who shared her life story being raised by two loving grandparents and Lew Polivick, Esq., director of Legal Services of Southern Missouri, focused on “Legal Issues for Grandparents.”

“Both conferences provided offered immediate support to those parenting the second time around,” Hall commented. She added, “These ‘grandfamlies’ need community understanding and access to information and resources.”

The Rolla gathering was sponsored by AARP Missouri in collaboration with The Centre and University of Missouri Extension. Poplar Bluff conference partners were AARP Missouri, University of Missouri Extension, Butler County Health Department, Physicians Park Primary Care, RSVP, SEMO Behavioral Health, and members of the Family and Community Education Club, and ILCSEMO.

Books for libraries

In conjunction with the grandparenting conferences, AARP donated books to libraries in both Rolla and Poplar Bluff: To Grandma’s House, We… Stay by Sally Houtman, MS; Finding the Right Spot: When Kids Can’t Live with Their Parents by Janice Levy; When I Miss You by Cornelia Maud Spelman; and All Families Are Special by Teresa Flavin.

“AARP strives to be relevant in the lives of our members,” Hall concluded. “Providing resources and information for these special families targets a growing segment of our members,” Hall concluded.

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