Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer
 
The state of West Virginia ranks fourth in the nation for the number of grandparents raising grandchildren. In an effort to provide assistance to grandparents in this position, West Virginia State University is working with counties to provide training in the Healthy Grandfamilies program.

On December 10, WVSU extension specialist Bonnie Dunn will provide training for county organizations that wish to learn more about helping grandparents with their roles as primary care providers for their grandchildren. 

“We are inviting different agencies within the community – faith-based folks also – to form a coalition to help grandparents who are raising grandchildren understand the public school system and to be able to get the services that they need for their grandchildren,” Pocahontas County Schools director of student services Ruth Bland said.

 The session will go from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – with lunch provided by the Pocahontas County High School ProStart class – and will include information for local organizations on how they can properly assist parenting grandparents.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” Bland said. “We do know that there are quite a few grandparents that are raising grandchildren these days. They need all the help they can get.”

The training is part of an initiative created by the West Virginia Department of Education board called Reclaim West Virginia. 

“It’s in response to the opioid crisis and to the fact that we have all these children in foster care,” Bland said. “This is one of the programs that they are bringing to each of the school systems to help parents and grandparents.”

After the training, if Pocahontas County chooses to start a Grandparents Coalition, the Healthy Grandfamilies program will provide assistance to get the local program up and running.

“The other nice thing about this is, if this county decides to have a Grandparents Coalition, then they will assign a social worker to the group for three months to help access the services here in Pocahontas County,” Bland said. “I perceive it as something very positive for citizens here in Pocahontas County.”

Bland requests that those planning to attend the training session RSVP by December 4 by calling 304-799-4505, extension 2224 or by email at rbland@k12.wv.us

For more information on the WVSU program, visit healthygrandfamilies.com

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