FULTON, NY â€“ Caregivers who find themselves raising their relativesâ€™ children are able to access a program that can prove to be a valuable resource.Â Catholic Charities of Oswego Countyâ€™s Kinship Program is designed specifically to provide support to kinship caregivers, who, through a variety of circumstances, have taken on the responsibility of raising their relativesâ€™ children.
Coordinator of the Kinship Program, Jonathan Gilmore, feels a special connection to kinship givers and can relate to the challenges these families face.
â€œHaving been raised by family I understand the love of other family members and can personally relate to many of the experiences these families are going through,â€ said Gilmore.
Families are referred to the program through the Department of Social Services.
Once in the Kinship Program, Gilmore works closely with these families to provide emotional support, recreational opportunities, and advocacy.
He meets with families monthly, or more often if need be, to assess their relationship and offer assistance with any issues the family may be experiencing.
â€œI strive to make sure that the families are aware of the support that is available to them. I educate them about, and refer them to, other programs, either at Catholic Charities or another human service agency, that can help them successfully address any specific challenges they may be dealing with. The goal of our Kinship Program is to help make their experience a comfortable fit so that they can successfully function as a family unit without the need for any services,â€ added Gilmore.
In addition to the professional support the program provides, families also benefit from peer support as the Kinship Program hosts monthly events, and encourages group meetings with other families.
â€œIt is important to the families to know that they are not alone and that their family environment is not unique. Each month we invite all of the families in the program to come together for activities and informal chat sessions. We also have youth group meetings so that the children can share their experiences and develop a better understanding of family unit,â€ said Gilmore.
Another benefit for families in the Kinship Program is that Gilmore works as an advocate for the families.
He attends meetings with school officials, lawyers, and other service providers to ensure that the best interests of the families are being met and ensure that families who are raising children of relatives develop into healthy and productive family unit.
For more information on the program or to learn more about eligibility for the program, call Gilmore at 598-3980.