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Group provides support for grandparents who raise their grandchildren

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It is no secret that drugs and alcohol can change lives.  Hopefully, with all of the education and media coverage, even an elementary student can tell you that drugs are bad for you.

The effects of drug and alcohol abuse rarely affect just a single person.

Country music artist Brad Paisley sings, “Well I’ve been known to cause a few breakups. And I’ve been known to cause a few births. I can make you new friends or get you fired from work.” While this may be intended as a lighthearted song about the effects of alcohol, the lyrics may be more fact than fiction for some, and nowhere in the song does it say that alcohol (and drugs) can tear children from their parents’ lives and the homes they’ve always known. 

According to the United States Census 2010, 10.6 percent of Kentucky’s children under the age of 18 live in homes where the households are grandparents or other relatives.

Forty-nine percent of the grandparent households have no parents of the children present in the home and 25 percent of them live in poverty in Kentucky.

In Carroll County, 243 children under the age of 18 live with a grandparent or other relative.

Both the adults and the children of these “grandfamilies” have an abundance of challenges and needs.

It isn’t necessary for them to read websites or brochures to know that drugs and alcohol change everything.

They are educated from life experiences.

A 16-year-old Carroll County High School student has lived with her grandmother from the age of three because her parents abused drugs.

She has a good relationship with her grandmother and her grandmother provides for her, but she still longs for that special bond with her mother that she has sacrificed since she was a toddler.

She doesn’t dream of her father walking her down the aisle one day because she knows it probably won’t happen because drugs robbed her of that opportunity.

There are many challenges for the adult caregivers as well.

Grandparents, while retirement would be nice, may have to work more than one job to provide or work opposite shifts from their spouse so that one grandparent will be able to care for the children.

Grandparents may not be aware of their legal rights, health insurance information or even how to help with the math homework their grandchildren brought home from school. “Grandfamilies” may just need support.

“Relatives Raising Relatives” is a group meeting the first Thursday of each month to provide support, education and help families in these situations. The next meeting will be at the Extension Office on Oct. 4, from 6-7 p.m. Please contact the Champions Office for more information: (502) 732-8304.

 

 Misty Wheeler is the director of Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County and resides in Carrollton, Ky.