There is help for grandparents raising their grandchildren.
“I get periodic phone calls from school districts about families in need of school resources,” said Sarah Nidiffer, Family and Community Partnership liaison with the Wood County Educational Service Center.
“I came to realize there was an overwhelming number of grandparents raising their grandchildren,” she said.
She said she learned schools were looking for support groups for their grandparents in this situation.
“There really was nothing in the county that was happening specifically for grandparents,” Nidiffer said.
A Grandparents Raising Grandchildren support group will be held Tuesday for Bowling Green and community grandparents. It is open to grandparents in Bowling Green and surrounding areas. The group will meet at Crim Elementary from 6-7:30 p.m. Childcare will be available.
A free dinner also will be provided.
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren will provide a casual and welcoming environment and offer support to grandparents who are raising grandchildren. Grandparents will have the opportunity to meet other caregivers, develop a network of support, and receive information about services available.
A support group was developed in 2018, and is now being revived.
“I feel like the numbers have gone up since then,” Nidiffer said about the need. “I hope this will be an opportunity people will take advantage of.”
Nidiffer said attendance has doubled to 13 in two months for a similar program at Lake Local Schools.
Grandparents there have been extremely receptive, she said.
“I’m seeing the grandparents realize they aren’t alone,” Nidiffer said. “They really enjoy that time together to share their stories,” she said.
After the success at Lake, she went to her supervisor to see if there was enough money in the grant to start a second group.
The only cost to the program has been meals and childcare, Nidiffer said.
She is hoping grandparents accept and embrace the group.
Childcare will be provided by the STARS, a before and after-school program provided by the Educational Service Center.
Nidiffer’s goal in Bowling Green is to provide grandparents will a network of resources and a chance to meet other adults in similar situations.
She also wants them to have a sense of community and “to be able to connect and have other people to lean on and not feel alone and isolated.”
RSVPs are requested by Monday for the Bowling Green program, although walk-ins will be accepted. RSVP to Nidiffer at 419-354-9010 ext. 136 or email@example.com.
She said as of Monday she had eight grandparents registered.
“I’m hoping we can guide them in the right direction and hook them up with the places they need,” Nidiffer said.
The group can learn how to help pay for utility bills, take advantage or programming at the library, and get in touch with counseling services.
Opioid addiction and prison seem to be the main reasons why grandparents have taken over raising their grandchildren, Nidiffer said. Parents are either not capable or have the desire to take care of their children.
Additional meetings are tentatively set for Dec. 14, Jan. 11, Feb. 8, March 8, April 19 and May 10. Attendance at all meeting is not required.