On Thursday, August 29th, Bonnie Dunn led a workshop training session at Canaan Valley Resort. The training was targeting six counties including Tucker, Randolph, Barbour, Grant, Hardy, and Pendleton. She detailed the resources available to people who are raising their grandchildren. She also discussed how to organize Healthy Grand Family coalitions within the communities represented.
Dunn presented information about grandfamilies, including her own experience growing up. The training is part of a statewide initiative to bring the Healthy Grandfamilies Program to every county in West Virginia, to ensure the growing number of grandfamilies in place are able to thrive.
“My newest charge from the state Legislature, because they have funded the project for this year, is to put this program in all 55 counties in West Virginia,” said Dunn, Healthy Grandfamilies program director for the West Virginia State University Extension Service. “To develop the coalitions in every county and from there we will be monitoring and be a resource to those counties from the university.”
West Virginia is No. 2 in the nation for the number of children being raised by one or more grandparent. There are several reasons children end up being raised by their grandparents including abandonment, death, and incarceration. Grandparents find themselves with young children and lack of information and support for raising this generation. Some of the topics covered at Healthy Grandfamilies groups are social media, legal issues, communication, trauma, and working with the school systems.
It is a collaborative effort with the different topics presented so experts from each community are brought in to present topics. The training at Canaan Valley Resort brought in experts from many areas and counties and was a great beginning to starting those coalitions needed to start a Healthy Grandfamilies program in each of those areas.
Several county program coordinators were named at the meeting and will work closely with Bonnie Dunn, the heart and mind behind this project. Support for grandparents raising grandchildren is on the horizon for the counties represented.
“We’re excited to offering this program to grandparents because there is such a great need” says Sandra Bohon, Tucker County Family Resource Center Coordinator.
“We plan to start the Healthy Grandfamilies program at the Randolph-Elkins Public library, which is a neutral ground for meetings to take place” Stephanie Murphy, library director said.
Grandparents will commit to eight weekly meetings in their community and will cover topics each of those weeks outlined in a binder for each family to keep. Childcare will be provided.
For more information on the Healthy Grandfamilies initiative, or to see when and where these trainings will be held in other counties, visit healthygrandfamilies.com.