MOREHEAD - The Rowan County Extension Office held an event last Friday in conjunction with the school district’s family resource centers.
“Steppin’ Up” was offered to any grandparent or relative who provides care to a child.
According to Ashley Adkins, assistant county attorney, the number of grandparents and other relatives raising children in the state is staggering.
“Kentucky has the highest rate in the nation of grandparents or relatives raising children. In 2018, 9% of children being raised in Kentucky were being raised by grandparents or relatives, compared to the national average of 4%,” she said.
She added there can be unique challenges for grandparents and relatives raising children.
“These include financial issues, as most caregivers are operating on a fixed income, legal issues as relatives’ battle through the court system, and the need for emotional support for the overall wellbeing of the caretaker who is taking on a huge and important responsibility,” Adkins said.
The purpose of the event was to equip relative caregivers with information and resources to help them care for the children in their life.
“Every day there are new bills and help in Frankfort for these families,” said Peggy Jones, event organizer. “Legal Aid has so much for these people to learn about with their situation. I believe it also helps these individuals to find out that they are not alone and others are in the same situation.”
This was the second event for grandparents and relative caregivers.
Adkins was among three speakers at Friday’s event. She spoke on legal assistance for caregivers. Trooper Scott Ferrell with Kentucky State Police Post 8 provided information on how to keep children safe on the internet and with social media. Michelle Guy of Rowan County Schools provided information on caretaker wellbeing.
“I know that we have great resources for families in our communities, but I was reminded of how much our schools and our extension office truly care about the children they serve. They hosted and planned the event because they saw a need,” Adkins said.
She added, “They work with relatives every day who are raising children and see their struggle. The FRYSC centers and Extension office identified this as an issue and addressed it through an educational and resourceful event. We are fortunate to have our FRYSC centers and Extension Office.”
She encouraged caregivers to ask for help and utilize resources for themselves and the child.
“I believe we all get lost in a world of work, family and life that we sometimes forget we have great people right here in our community with major struggles,” said Jones.
Adkins added the Legal Aid of the Bluegrass now has a new program called Kids Rise, that offers legal assistance and has a full-time social worker to offer assistance to relatives raising kids due to drug or alcohol abuse.
The program offers legal assistance but also connects relatives to resources for housing, food, employment, transportation, and serve as an educational advocate.
For more information on Kids Rise, call (859) 431-8200 and use code word: KY KIDS RISE.