TAYLOR COUNTY—Healthy Grandfamilies is a program that helps those families where grandparents are acting as a child’s primary caregiver, where workers strive to help provide the necessary tools for the guardians to help their grandchildren learn and grow.
On Monday, Candace Golaszewski, social worker and case manager with the program met with two local families to provide them with laptops for their children to use during this school year.
“I was contacted by a grandparent from last session when COVID first struck and in our talks, she told me they were having trouble submitting homework because their only device to use was a phone,” she said. “Through a donation, we were able to provide that family with a laptop to use, to make things a little easier on the family.”
She said that soon after, she wondered if other families in the program were experiencing the same difficulties, so she reached out to current program participants and learned that there were eight additional families with the same need.
“We had eight total families, three of which are in Taylor County,” explained Golaszewski. “We immediately set out to find the best options to secure money to purchase laptops for our families to help lift the burden put on them by COVID.
While searching through various grants and other avenues to obtain money, Golaszewski received a $2,000 donation from Ms. Bonnie Dunn the Healthy Grandfamilies Program director, creator, founder and legislature advocate.
“With that money, we immediately started looking for computers at a low cost to help extend our money, allowing us to purchase the needed laptops,” she noted. “I contacted Best Buy’s commercial business department and through them, they were able to provide us with free shipping, which was awesome!”
After the laptops were secured, Golaszewski contacted the Taylor County grandfamilies to set up a time to deliver their much-needed electronics.
“We are so appreciative of Candace and all of her hard work,” said Healthy Grandfamilies participant Joyce Haines. “This laptop will help us get through this school year, so much easier.”
Golaszewski shared that the laptops will not only help the students, but will help the grandfamilies access information and services they may need in their journey.
“The Healthy Grandfamilies program is designed to assist and educate grandparents in multiple areas of childhood development,” said Golaszewski. “Unfortunately, 62 percent of children in West Virginia schools are currently being raised by their grandparents, so we know that there is a need for this program.”
She added that any grandparent raising one or more grandchild is encouraged to take part in the program for assistance, support and advocacy.
Typically, the program offers a series of free discussions aimed at providing information and resources to grandparents who have taken on the responsibility of raising one or more of their grandchildren.
Participants in the program are then able to take advantage of three months of free follow-up services, including information and referral services, linkage to community resources, confidential supportive services to meet the unique needs of each family situation and accessibility to the Grandfamily Financial Assistance Fund, which assists when no other resources are available.
Among those services is a support group that meets once a month for both current and previous program participants. For now, the Grandparents As Parents Support Group meetings will continue to meet virtually.
“The Facebook group, West Virginia Grandfamilies-Harrison County, will continue to provide families with ongoing support and information. This is a private group for them to come and share, ask questions and learn from others’ experiences,” Golaszewski stated. “We encourage participants to check out our social work services that may help them on their journey.”
Even though Healthy Grandfamilies has experienced changes in the ways we help grandfamilies due to the Coronavirus, they will continue to be a source of assistance for any of these families in need during these trying time.
“This program has helped so much,” voiced Haines. “You think that you know what you are going through because you have raised your own kids, but you quickly find out that raising your grandchildren is so much different.
“I just want to thank Ms. Candace for everything. Not only will these computers help the kids, but it will help us learn, too,” said Grandfamilies participant Arlene Knotts. “Not only is this a great program, but we have access to Candace when we need her.”
For more information about Healthy Grandfamilies and how you can be a part of the program, please contact Golaszewski by phone at 304-366-4750 ext. 113 or by emailing [email protected].