In Arizona, there are more than 160,000 children living in homes where they are being cared for and raised by grandparents or other relatives. During National Kinship Care Awareness Month, this September, we want to honor those who provide a safe, supportive, loving home environment for a relative’s child, while still maintaining a sense of their family, culture and community.
Mary was a retired grandmother, dealing with various medical diagnoses and living on her own when she first came to Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA). She was seeking guardianship for her grandson, so that she could enroll him in high school. Unfortunately, her grandson’s father was in prison, and his mother was nowhere to be found. Mary decided, despite her medical conditions, that she would seek out AzCA’s Kinship Support Services and get her guardianship license to provide her grandson the care and support he needed. Once Mary obtained her guardianship, she enrolled her grandson in school. However, he got into trouble frequently, which resulted in multiple suspensions.
Coming out of retirement, Mary hadn’t dealt with parenting for a while. She spoke with her Kinship Navigator and reported feeling stressed and very alone during this tumultuous time with her grandson. They encouraged her to attend one of AzCA’s support groups, where she could get encouragement and support from other kinship caregivers. Mary was hesitant at first, but eventually decided to give the support group a chance. While at the support group, Mary enjoyed connecting with other caregivers and having a safe space to share her experience and the challenges she faced daily.
During this time, Mary’s grandson continued to struggle at school and eventually was expelled. She reached out to her Kinship Navigator who helped her find a new school with the hope of providing her grandson with an opportunity for a fresh start. Mary continued to attend the support groups regularly. She says that with the advice from her peers she was able to help her grandson improve his behavior, and ultimately help him graduate from high school. She is incredibly proud of her grandson, and is happy to announce that he is on track to attend college!
If you are raising grandchildren, nieces or nephews, cousins, or a child under 18 not born to you, our Arizona Kinship Support Services (AKSS) can help. Click here for more information on our AKSS program.