DAYTON, Ohio—A $10,000 People’s Choice Grant from the CareSource Foundation has made a difference in the lives of the 535 families and 1,200 children helped annually by the Kinship Caregiver Coalition, a program of the Center for Healthy Communities in the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine.
That grant, which was given to the coalition in July 2012, has helped the coalition provide resources and education to grandparents who are parenting for the second time. “The $10,000 grant has gone a long way over two years,” said Dionne Simmons, program director of the Kinship Caregiver Coalition. “Grandparents tell us all the time that they don’t know what they would have done without us.”
The coalition offers assistance to a relative, typically a grandparent, who takes in a child when the parent is either unable or unwilling to provide parental care due to death, domestic violence, incarceration, poverty and/or drug abuse. Most of the caregivers are low-income, single females who are the head of the household.
With the grant money, the coalition has offered two Kinship Family Fairs, half-day workshops that provide training and activities for children and caregivers. The event is held in August as a kick off to the new school year. A free lunch is provided to all of the participants. In addition, the children receive backpacks and school supplies. “It is our goal to provide kinship caregivers with information and resources that help make the journey possible,” Simmons said.
The grant also has made another educational program a reality. The Lunch-N-Learn program is a two-hour, bimonthly educational workshop for kinship caregivers. The workshops are presented in a welcoming format that encourages discussion. The topics range from “Dealing with Difficult Children” to “Visits from Biological Parents.” Outside speakers from supporting area agencies speak at the Lunch-N-Learn programs. “The goal of Lunch-N-Learn is to provide them with the tools and resources to be able to parent again successfully,” Simmons said.
The grant money also has been used to support Kinship Kloset, a free resource to kinship caregivers that provides children’s clothing based on need.
Simmons also is grateful to Buckeye Community Health, which partnered with the coalition and gave it 77 hams and 15 turkeys three days before Christmas in 2013. The families who received the food were very grateful, Simmons said.
The Wright State University Center for Healthy Communities is a community-academic partnership committed to improving the health and well being of the community, educating its health professionals and serving as a force for change. The center began in 1991 as Partners for Community Health Development and became a formal organization in 1994. In 2011, the center became a program of the Center for Global Health in the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine Department of Community Health. The Kinship Caregiver Coalition is a program administered by the Center for Healthy Communities.
For more information about the Kinship Caregiver Coalition, contact Simmons at (937) 775-8249.