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Catholic Charities’ Kinship Program Helping Relatives Raise Relatives

Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
FULTON, NY – Caregivers who find themselves raising their relatives’ children are able to access a program that can prove to be a valuable resource.  Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s Kinship Program is designed specifically to provide support to caregivers, who, through a variety of circumstances, have taken on the responsibility of raising their relative’s children.

The Kinship Program, which currently serves more than 50 families throughout Oswego County, has added two new groups to help families deal with the challenges of raising their relative’s children.

One of the new groups focuses on offering support to caregivers who are raising a relative’s child due to the child’s parents struggle with drug or alcohol addiction, or problems with the law.

Kinship Program coordinator, Jonathan Gilmore explained, “Due to the increase in families facing these challenges we have established a new support group that focuses on the struggles and frustrations that caregivers face in communicating with the child as well as the parent who is choosing their addiction over their child. We provide caregivers with the knowledge and resources they need so that they are able to provide proper support without being judgmental or becoming an enabler.  There is a fine line between helping someone and becoming an enabler and this group makes it easier to understand where that line is.”

The other aspect to this new group offered through the Kinship Program provides support to caregivers who are raising a relative’s child due to incarceration of the parent or parents.  In addition to educating caregivers on dealing with the usual challenges of raising a relative’s child, this new group focuses on the caregiver and child and how they can effectively communicate with the incarcerated parent and the sense of loss that the child is experiencing.

Gilmore said that while the support and education the families receive from the program’s staff is invaluable, the bonds they develop with other families and the support they provide for each other is vital to the success of the Kinship Program.

“It is important that families realize they are not alone and that their family environment is not unique. Families learn so much from sharing their experiences with each other and discussing how each family deals with similar struggles that they face. Our families look forward to our group sessions and visiting with the other families.  We have also established a phone tree so that families are able to stay in touch between the group sessions,” said Gilmore.

In addition to this new group, the Kinship Program offers regular caregiver support groups twice a month.

These groups deal with the emotions and challenges that caregivers raising a relative’s child have to deal with everyday.

In addition, the Kinship Program offers a Caregiver Education Group that focuses on issues such as navigating the service system, communicating with children, dealing with behavior problems, loss, and developing advocacy skills.

The group is well received by the families and provides them with practical knowledge and the resources they need to be successful.

“Everything the Kinship Program does is focused on helping the families and improving their quality of life. We welcome their input and recently conducted a survey to determine what services they would like to receive. The addition of these two new programs was a direct result of a survey that we conducted with caregivers. Their requests helped shape the focus of these support groups,” said Gilmore.

The Kinship Program also offers families the opportunity to enjoy a number of group outings.  In the coming months, caregivers and children in the program will be able to enjoy trips to the Rosemond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, an overnight stay at Camp Hollis and a Beach Day at Sandy Pond.

“We are happy to have the Kinship Program available to relatives who are raising relatives.  It is a valuable program that provides them with the support, advocacy and encouragement they need,” added Gilmore.

For more information on the Kinship Support Program, or to learn more about eligibility for the program, call Gilmore at Catholic Charities of Oswego County at 598-3980 ext.233.

Catholic Charities of Oswego County serves all people in need regardless of their religious affiliation.

Primary funding sources for Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s programs are the United Way of Greater Oswego County, the Diocesan Hope Appeal, the County of Oswego and private donations by individuals and local companies and organizations.