Wood County program helps grandparents raising grandchildren

The group provides support, networking and resources for caregivers.
Meetings are held at three school districts in Wood County
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 6:14 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A growing number of grandparents are raising their grandchildren. There are a variety of reasons for that, but drugs are a major factor. For many of the grandparents, there’s nowhere to turn for support or resources. But there’s a special local program that’s providing help.

It is a challenge facing families all over the country and here at home. There’s a program in Wood County providing a network of support and resources for grandparents and kinship caregivers who find themselves unexpectedly raising children.

Debby Boden didn’t expect to be helping raise two young children in her sixties, but she says when Children’s Services got involved, she knew what she had to do.

“How could you just let them go? I can’t imagine not taking them in,” said Boden. “It was not on my bucket list, but I don’t regret it. I love them, they’re awesome.”

There are a lot of stories just like that in our community and experts say not a lot of help available.

“There are a lot more grandparents raising grandchildren in the community than people realize,” said Suzanne Eames who works with the Wood County program. “There is not enough support, they fall through the cracks.”

But there’s a program through the Wood County Educational Service Center working to help change that.

“This is supposed to be their retirement, their golden years, time to enjoy themselves. Now, they are starting over,” said Sarah Nidiffer, the Family and Community Partnership Liason for the center. “They really are an under served population. We are here to help them navigate the challenges.”

It is called the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group. In addition to grandparents, it is also for kinship caregivers. That includes other family members as well as those not related to the children they are raising.

“It is emotional to leave the meetings after hearing their stories and know what they’ve gone through,” said Nidiffer. “You know how strong they are and what they go through on a daily basis. They are amazing people.”

Boden says she is forever grateful for the program.

“It has helped a lot,” said Boden. “Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry. But there’s a lot of sharing. It is so nice to be with people who understand what you are going through.”

Eames loves seeing it’s lasting impact.

“One of the most impactful things to see is the grandparents who have been through so much pain connecting with others who have gone through the same pain,” said Eames. “Being able to connect with others going through the same thing you are is powerful.”

There are support groups at three school districts in Wood County. These are Rossford, Lake and Bowling Green and there are meetings once a month. The program will be expanded to one more district next school year.

If you’d like to learn more, click here.

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