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Community Impact: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2.5 million grandparents across the nation are raising their grandchildren. To assist area grandparents in their efforts, the Jackson EMC Foundation in March provided a $5,000 grant to the Athens Community Council on Aging for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (GRG), a program that supports grandparents who are primary caregivers for their children’s children.

“Grandparents decide to raise their grandchildren for a variety of reasons, including parent substance abuse, incarceration, disability or death,” says Paige Powell, GRG program director. “Many grandparents and other caregivers struggle with the financial burden of supporting children with Social Security or other supplemented income.”

Taking on the role of parent often increases stress and financial strain on caregivers and their households, according to Powell.

“The overall goal of the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program is to maintain a safe and stable family unit,” she says. “We meet the caregiver’s needs by providing a variety of services.”

Those services include monthly home visits, mentoring, childcare, transportation and support group meetings – support that enhances grandparents’ ability to continue providing their grandchildren with a stable family home, according to Powell.

The GRG program currently aids 43 grandparents and 65 grandchildren in six northeast Georgia counties, including Jackson, Madison, Clarke and Barrow. Thirteen families are on a waiting list.

Grant money from the Jackson EMC Foundation will be used to reimburse mileage to University of Georgia interns who conduct home visits while providing transportation to clients and delivering needed materials; to purchase emergency food and personal care supplies; and to support children participating in the 2013-14 afterschool program and 2014 summer programs.

University of Georgia interns are vital to the GRG program, according to Powell who says that, on average, each intern drives 400 miles per month transporting clients, conducting home visits and participating in family activities and support groups.

The Athens Community Council on Aging Inc. is a private, nonprofit, community based agency that works to meet the diverse needs of older persons in Northeast Georgia.