Last Thursday we attended the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Conference in Lexington. In it’s 11th year, the conference has grown to attract 400 participants from over 50 counties.  The conference provided a wealth of information —  from practical tips on how to raise a high schooler  (it’s a little different from 20 or 30 years ago…) to advice about how and when to gain legal custody. The organizers say that due to demand, they could easily expand to a larger location, yet they want to make sure it’s as convenient as possible for this special group of individuals who need all the help they can get these days.

We attended the conference in order to hear more about how impending cuts to Kentucky’s Kinship Care Program — which offers  up to $300/month in financial assistance for grandparents, aunts, cousins, etc. who are stepping up to raise children — will impact kinship families and to encourage them to raise their voices about the penny-wise and pound foolish nature of such cuts.

We also collected signatures for a letter to Governor Beshear, which we are sending today asking him to ensure that the April 1 cuts to all children’s programs, including the Kinship Care Program do not go into effect. In addition to 60 organizations, the letter was signed by 241 individuals from 38 counties across the state. See the full text of that letter here.

More importantly, we asked every conference attendee to reach out to Governor Beshear and their state legislators with a simple message: In Kentucky, family values are more than just talk. Some caregivers volunteered to put a face on that message with their photos. You can view those pictures in an album titled “Messages to Gov Beshear from Grandparents & Relatives Raising Kin” on our Facebook page.

Research shows that when children experience abuse or neglect, the best place for them to recover from their trauma is with relatives or family friends. Kinship arrangements are not only the most effective but they are the least expensive option for kids in crisis. Kinship families who are stepping up for children need our support.