Healthy Grandfamilies program returns this summer as a support network for older adults raising grandkids

BUCKHANNON – The successful Healthy Grandfamilies program will return to Upshur County this June.

Lori Ulderich Harvey, executive director of the Upshur County Family Resource Network, said the totally free program will start again on June 13 at the Upshur County Recreational Park pavilion — the pavilion behind the Buckhannon-Upshur High School football field. The program will kick off at 11:30 a.m. for lunch, and a presenter will speak from noon to 1:30 p.m. On-site childcare is provided.

“We will have childcare provided, and it’s very informal,” Harvey explained. “We’re here for the grandparents, to get them the information they need, whether it’s as a group or as an individual. We will continue having meetings every Thursday until July 25, except on July 4.”

Healthy Grandfamilies began at West Virginia State University in response to the growing number of grandparents raising their grandchildren. In past years, the Upshur County program has been highly successful.

“The grandparents we’ve had in the past have really enjoyed being around other grandparents in the same situation,” Harvey said. “It has become an informal support group, and we really encourage talking and sharing the high points, the low points – we’re there for all of it. If we have a grandparent that’s going through something, we will stay over and talk to them as long as we need to.”

The program is free and open to any grandparent raising, or helping raise, a grandchild – either through formal custody arrangements or informal help.

“It can be full or part-time care,” Harvey said. “We have such a high rate of grandparents formally or informally taking care of grandkids. They’ve already raised their kids, and now they’re back in a totally different environment trying to raise their grandkids. We have sessions on parenting in the 21st century, legal issues, navigating the school system, communication, how addiction affects families, self-care and health literacy. If you have a question and if we don’t know the answer, we find the answer to it, or if you’re having an issue, we help you get through the issue.”

The discussion topics include:

  • Parenting in the 21st Century
  • Negotiating the Public School System
  • Family Relationships and Communication: When everyone texts and no one talks!
  • Technology & Social Media: The dangers, pitfalls, plusses, and how to use it.
  • Narcan training, health literacy and self-care/stress management – take care of you and your families!
  • Family Response to Addiction: Coping with a child struggling with substance misuse
  • Legal Issues & Documents: Getting past all the legal issues

“We’re here to help,” Harvey said. “We want to make sure that they’re getting the best information from the experts that we have each week.”

A grocery card is given to first-time participants upon completion.

Interested grandfamilies should register with the Upshur Family Resource Network by calling 304-473-1051 or emailing by June 11. Follow the FRN on Facebook by tapping here.

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