Grandparents as Parents FAQ
What is GaP?
Grandparents as Parents...or "GaP" is a program of the Tallahassee Senior Foundation funded by the Leon County Commission and sponsored by United Healthcare and a Tallahassee COPE (Childhood Obesity Prevention Education) grant from the Florida Blue Foundation.
GaP serves grandparents and other relatives who are raising children by providing support groups, family outings, advocacy, educational programs, legal services, health screenings, information and referral and access to community resources.
What are some of the circumstances that lead grandparents and other relatives to step in to become the primary caretakers of children?
- Death or illness
- Abandonment or neglect
- Teen Pregnancy
- Mental Illness
- Abandonment/ Neglect
- Changing Economic Factors
What are the statistics? Nationally, how many children are being cared for by relatives other than parents? How many grandfamilies are in Florida and Leon County?
Nationally over 1 in 10 children is being raised by a grandparent or other relative. According to the 2010 census, 345,000 children in Florida are being reared by relatives. In Leon County there are more than 2000 grandparent-headed families.
What do your families say are the biggest hurdles they face in going back to raising children again?
- Physical exhaustion
- Legal issues
- Navigating the public welfare system to get the help they need
- Financial problems
- Feeling like they don’t fit in
- Lack of support from friends and relatives
- Changes in our society – especially in technology
- Systems for keeping in touch with teachers and other of the children’s activities
What are some of the issues that the children may face that grandparents and other relative caregivers might have to attend to?
Children may feel abandoned. They may have problems trusting their grandparents or the stability of their new living situation. Some of the children may have witnessed violence or themselves been abused. Many of our grandparents say that their grandchildren experience trouble sleeping or have nightmares. Some are angry which may lead to defiant behavior. Some exhibit signs of depression. While many children are quite proud of their grandparents, some are embarrassed by their situation. Children do not want to stand out and feel different from other children.
What are some of the services that the GaP program provides?
GaP holds monthly support luncheons. At these luncheons, grandparents and other relative caregivers share common concerns and bring problems up for group discussion. They find support and fellowship from others in a similar situation. GaP works to provide speakers and exhibitors to connect grandparents to services in the community that may help in their role as caregivers. GaP offers health screenings, legal assistance, provides advocacy services and referral services…helping families connect to resources they need. There are also intergenerational socials and outings.
Why are support groups so important to the caregivers of children?
It is vital for caregivers to know that they are not alone in their circumstances. There is great psychological value in sharing concerns and problems with others you feel can relate to your situation. Caregivers find that sharing information and problem-solving together not only eases stress but is extremely helpful. Grandparents new to this life change can get much guidance from others who have been caregivers a while.
Why are health screenings a regular part of the support group program?
Often caregivers tend to everyone else’s needs before their own. They may ignore or put aside troubling symptoms. Regular health screenings are important to maintain the well-being of caregivers and provide an opportunity to raise questions and concerns about their own health.
What is the benefit of having an attorney available at support group meetings?
Relative caregivers face many legal challenges. One of the most important hurdles is establishing a legal custody agreement so they can make significant decisions and be able to get the necessary services for children in their care. It is important for relative caregivers to know their rights.
When does GaP meet?
GaP meets for monthly support luncheons on the last Wednesday of the month at the main public library at 200 West Park Avenue in Tallahassee. Reservations are required of all relative caregivers for all GaP events. Please contact Karen Boebinger at 850-891-4027 or firstname.lastname@example.org to make a reservation.
How can I get involved with GaP?
For more information or attend a luncheon, call the GaP program coordinator, Karen Boebinger, at 850-891-4027 or email her at Karen.email@example.com.