Local group helping grandparents raise younger children

Around 78,000 children live in grandparent-headed homes in Missouri

Jefferson City Grandparents Conference

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - In Missouri, around 78,000 children are living in grandparent-headed households.

The AARP says grandparents raising their grandchildren is a growing trend not only in the state, but nationally.

Jefferson City's Community Services Committee members said they noticed large amount of grandparent-headed homes in the city and felt compelled to do something to help them out.

So, Thursday they held a conference to help grandparents as they take on this crucial role in their grandchild's lives.

The conference featured speakers that offered financial, legal, emotional, and networking advice to the grandparents.

Even organizer Harry Kennedy said their goal was to lighten the load for the grandparents.

"Raising grandchildren brings financial struggles, it brings emotional struggles, it brings physical struggles," said Kennedy.

Kennedy says every grandparent at the event has a different story as to how they became a guardian of their grandchild, but hey all can benefit from some advice and some reassurance.

"When we look at the needs, we find that family styles, maybe alcohol, drug abuse, maybe it's deployment, perhaps separations, the economy, teenage pregnancy  bring the grandchildren back to the grandparents," said Kennedy.

Judy Wilder is a foster mom to her 17-year-old granddaughter and she says she appreciated the advice she was given for raising an older teen.

"Some of the helpful things have been resources for teenagers who are transitioning into adulthood. Those are real important subjects for me, you know, looking at colleges, being mentored, financial assistance," said Wilder.

Wilder also said this conference made her feel that she is no longer alone.

"One of the things that they stress is grandparents raising grandchildren--you're not alone. You feel that when you're with other grandparents," said Wilder.

Kennedy said that's just what they were going for with this event.

"We want the grandparents to know that they're not alone in this struggle. That there are several resources. There is a community, a safety net that's going to help them through the issues," said Kennedy.

Over 50 grandparents attended the event.

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