New support line for grandparents who are raising grandchildren

New support line for grandparents who are raising grandchildren

Parenting is the most important, rewarding and challenging job that most adults will undertake in their lifetime.

Along with the joy of raising a child come times of stress and uncertainty. That stress and uncertainty can increase greatly when a grandparent or another relative has taken on the responsibility of raising a family member’s child. They may feel overwhelmed by their new parenting role. They may feel stressed about financial, emotional or legal concerns. They may have questions about where to get help when they need it.

That’s why the Ministry of Children and Family Development is investing $100,000 a year from the ministry’s existing fiscal plan for the Parent Support Services Society of B.C. to launch the new Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Line and email support.

The new line follows through on a request made in 2011 by Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. The grandparents support group asked the ministry for a new navigation and education service to provide help and information to grandparents or other relatives raising a family member’s child. Recognizing that not everyone is online, especially if they are a part of an older generation, a phone line was preferred.

Skilled and experienced advocates will staff the phone line and provide email support to help people understand their rights, obligations and options prior to and after assuming responsibility for raising a family member’s child. Staff will also ensure that callers are aware of all benefits, supports and resources available to them – and how to access them.

To call the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Line, dial 604 558-4740 (Lower Mainland) or 1 855 474-9777 (toll free from anywhere in B.C.)

Email the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Service at: GRGline@parentsupportbc.ca

The new help line will operate provincewide, Monday-Friday, for five hours a day. The hours will vary, however, if a client calls when the line is not open, they will receive a voicemail where they can leave a message for a call back.

In addition to funding for the help line, the ministry is providing the Parent Support Services Society with $10,000 to update and reprint a legal guide to help grandparents make informed decisions about legal matters impacting their families.

Parent Support Services Society of BC is a non-profit, volunteer-based society which promotes healthy parent-child relationships by supporting families and communities.

If a child’s needs are best met by living outside the parental home, and the parents agree, financial and other supports may be provided to the caregiver through the ministry’s Extended Family Program.

Through the Extended Family Program, caregivers may receive monthly benefit payments of up to $554 per child under 12 years old and $625 per child over 12. Additional benefits are available based on the child’s assessed needs.

In May 2011, the B.C. government announced amendments to the Child, Family and Community Service Act to allow for the transfer of permanent legal custody of a vulnerable child living with extended family to those family members without having to remove the child into government care first. The amendments mean that extended family members will be able to provide children with permanent homes more quickly and with less disruption to the child.

For more information on the Parent Support Services Society of BC, go to: www.parentsupportbc.ca.  For more information on the Extended Family Program, go to: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/alternativestofostercare/extended_family.htm