By Tess Malijenovsky
Thanks to a pool of community efforts across the board, a unique and important support group is gaining popularity in Beaufort Country. Years after raising their own children, many adults within the community are becoming “parents” once more to their grandchildren, only now times have changed. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren is a national group for grandparents and nontraditional families that helps supports them in their role as guardians.
“We saw a need in our community with more grandparents raising their children or nontraditional families raising children. [Grandparents Raising Grandchildren] was an organization that we wanted to start to help support those families,” says Ashley Hutchison of the Beaufort County School District.
Along with the Beaufort County School District, the Beaufort County Collaborative Organization of Services for Youth and Parents Anonymous of South Carolina are sponsoring this organization and expanding to new locations in the Bluffton/Hilton Head area in hopes of reaching out to more of these nontraditional families. “Our main concern is keeping [grandparents] linked to the community and letting them know what resources are out there to help them support their children,” Hutchison says.
Grandparents and nontraditional families that take in a child unexpectedly face many challenges, such as child custody or the financial burdens of school uniforms and health care. Also, many things have changed in the children rearing business since back in the day. Grandparents may need help keeping up with the new trends of raising children.
While the group mainly gathers to share ideas and common concerns, there are also presentations from the Department of Social Services, Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, and the school district that provide important information on resources within the community concerning education, early intervention, childcare, child support laws, respite care, adoption, Medicaid and legal assistance. Grandparents are linked directly to educational programs, food banks, thrift stores, and school social workers often ease their burdens.
The next meeting for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren will be held in the Hilton Head IB Elementary School Parent Resource Center on Sept. 19 at 5:30 p.m. Childcare will be provided.
“Definitely there are more grandparents out their in the community that we haven’t reached yet and we just want to keep going,” says Hutchinson.
For more information, contact Ashley Hutchison at the Beaufort County School District (521-2399); Paula Settles at Beaufort County COSY (521-3150), or Lorain Tascoe-Bey (726-1092).
By Tess Malijenovsky