10/12/2013 1:28:00 PM Help for grandparents raising grandchildren
Olga Morris of Cottonwood and her two grandsons, Andrew Paul and Ahchanabahe.
COTTONWOOD - About 12 percent of young children in Yavapai County age 6 and under are raised primarily by their grandparents.
Olga Morris of Cottonwood received partial guardianship of her two grandsons, Andrew Paul and Ahchanabahe, when tragedy befell their family. Two years ago, the boys' mother -Olga's daughter- passed away. The boys were only 3 and 5 years old. Soon after, the boys' father began serving a four-year prison sentence for an alcohol-related offense.
Now, Olga shares guardianship with the boys' step mother.
Though the circumstances in which she came to raise the boys were sad and unexpected, Morris has worked to make sure that the boys have all the support they need to be happy and healthy.
The beginning of the school year can be especially difficult for Andrew and Ahchanabahe, as it marks the anniversary of their mother's death. Morris and the boys' stepmother know that the positive, nurturing relationships they build with the boys are critical to helping them cope. "Research shows that the relationship a child has with their primary caregiver shapes the way they have relationships in the future, as well as how they view themselves in the world," said Morris.
Morris says that today's world is different than the one in which she raised her daughter. "So much more is expected from children nowadays, especially in the areas of reading and math," she said. Morris constantly emphasizes the importance of school to her grandsons, and regularly volunteers in their classrooms.
Morris is dedicated to being the best grandparent she can be, and has attended free parent classes to learn all she can. She recommended that all grandparents raising grandchildren take advantage of programs available to support them. "There's new research that's helping parents be better- things that we weren't aware of when we were raising kids," Morris said.
In our community, several free resources -funded by First Things First- are available to all parents, grandparents and caregivers raising young children ages 6 and under. These include:
Â·Free parenting education classes. To find a class near you, call (928)-708-0100.
Â· The Birth to Five Helpline, which helps families of young kids get answers to their toughest questions (1-877-705-5437)
Â· Parents as Teachers, a free home visitation program for families with children ages 5 and under. For more information, call 1-888-771-3435 X 2026.
Another new, free resource, Raising Up GRANDChildren, is a group for grandparents and others raising a relative's child. The group, which is part of the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, meets every first and third Wednesday of each month at the Clarkdale Library from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Participants are welcome to bring a brown bag lunch.
Many other local programs can be found in the Little Kids Book, a countywide resource guide for families, which can be found at your local library.