Under the Umbrella – Changing Hats: Parenting Relative Children & Youth

When parents are unable to care for their children, grandparents sometimes step forward to take on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren. Many relatives, including grandparents, chose to step into the role of parent in order to ensure that they can keep their family together and ease the difficult transitions the children are likely facing. Whether your family is faced with this challenge through the intervention of the foster care system or through a family-made arrangement, choosing to care for your relative children is an act of profound love, and the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families is here to offer support.

If you’re a grandparent who has been asked to care for a grandchild, you maybe experiencing a host of emotions. For starters, you probably did not ask for, or were not expecting to assume the responsibility and challenges of raising your grandchildren, and you may not be sure how this new family dynamic will play out in your family. Despite this, you may also be looking forward to the rewards of building a deeper and closer connection with your grandchild, and being there to experience the many joys and milestones that go along with raising children. One thing is for certain, you know that taking on this responsibility will require a major adjustment in your home and in your lifestyle, and that realization is likely to lend itself to some anxiety.

As a relative caregiver, you may be wondering who you can turn to for advice, support and resources. Along your journey, you will likely have questions related to foster care, guardianship, adoption, or the Wisconsin Kinship Care program. Part of the Coalition’s mission is to strengthen families and, to that end, Resource Specialists are readily available by phone or email, to answer your questions and offer you resources. Very often, we can provide you with information that may help you and the children you are caring for navigate the often confusing world relative caregiving.

You can start by checking out our website, wiadopt.org. Navigate to the “resources” tab and you will find dozens of tip sheets, other helpful websites, and additional contacts for support. While you’re there, be sure to check out our free lending library, which has over 3,000 items for you to browse, including children’s books. The lending library is free to use; we’ll mail you your resources and even include return postage. We can also help you connect with local support groups, therapists, and community-based resources in your area. You can also find caregiver guides on our Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center website, wifostercareandadoption.org.

Please know that help, support, information, and resources are available to you. Reach out anytime you need help along your journey; 414-475-1246, 800-762-8063, info@coalitionforcyf.org.

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