Ruby and GrandmaIn the U.S. there are 2.7 million grandparents raising their grandchildren under age 18, with 55,000 of them in Kentucky alone. There are several reasons for grandparents to raise their grandchildren, including parental death, parental substance abuse, military deployment, child abuse and neglect, parental mental and physical health issues, and parental disability. Research tells us that grandparents raising their grandchildren, as well as other relatives raising kids, known as kinship care, is good for children because it reduces trauma at parental separation and helps children keep ties to their family.

Last week there were two major events in Kentucky focusing on the benefits and challenges of kinship care.

The first event took place on Wednesday, September 9th in Louisville. Over 100 advocates, stakeholders, and kinship caregivers convened to discuss barriers faced by kinship families and the solutions we can put in place to adequately support them. The summit led to rich discussion on panels that included legislators, researchers, and kinship caregivers, as well as in small groups amongst all the participants.

The second event took place on Friday, September 11th in Covington. The first Northern Kentucky Grandparents as Parents Conference provided information from guest speakers on child development, adjusting to kinship settings, legal matters in kinship care, and available community resources and assistance. The keynote speaker was a national kinship care expert, Dr. Joseph Crumbley, and the conference had over 80 individuals in attendance.

Sunday, September 13th was Grandparent’s Day. Throughout the week the Kinship Families Coalition of Kentucky shared social media posts on Facebook and Twitter encouraging Kentuckians to do something grand for the grandparents in their lives. Grandparents raising grandchildren have stepped up to raise children whose parents can no longer care for them and deserve praise and celebration for doing so. If you missed Grandparent’s Day, that’s OK, as there are 364 more days you can do something grand for the kinship caregiver in your life and show them they are appreciated. For ideas on how to show your appreciation, follow this link.