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New resources for grandparents raising grandchildren

New resources for grandparents raising grandchildren

In at least 5000 New Zealand homes children are being cared for full-time by their grandparents or some other older relative. It is usually because some trauma or tragedy has pulled a family apart: death, drug use, crime or family violence. On Monday 27th August, The Parenting Place is bringing a new resource for grandparents raising their grandchildren to the South Island. “The Ministry of Social Development has asked us to provide support for foster carers, and a significant number of those carers are older people, usually grandparents, who have been called back into front-line parenting duty”, says CEO of The Parenting Place, Bruce Pilbrow. “It’s a huge sacrifice for them, and a real challenge. At a stage in life when they could rightly expect to be settling back and taking things a bit more gently, they are suddenly thrust in to parenting young children or teenagers again. We are proud to be able to help them.”

The new resource is a set of three DVDs with nearly nine hours of practical parenting advice. With the accompanying manual, the aim is to duplicate the experience of a Toolbox parenting group. The material has been specially attuned to the needs of grandparents by a team headed up by social worker Caroline Jones. “Parents love our existing Toolbox groups”, says Caroline. “Over 4000 parents attend them every year but we realised that for grandparents raising grandchildren, coming out in the evening to attend a group might not be a practical option, especially as a large number of them are parenting on their own. The idea was to present the information in a fun and relaxed way on video, at a time, place and pace that suits the individual.”

Many of the children that come to be cared for by grandparents have experienced neglect and abuse. They may also have already been through many foster care situations before ending up with their grandparents. “We know that these grandparents will already have had a wealth of parenting experience,” says Caroline. “And so this course adds to their knowledge by paying special attention to the particular needs of children with attachment issues and who have endured trauma or abuse. We drew on the expertise of psychologists, parenting experts and, of course, grandparents themselves. It covers all sorts of parenting dilemmas, right from caring for toddlers all the way through to the teenage years.”

The material is presented by a range of experts and hosted by high profile personalities such as Dame Alison Holst, Bob Kerridge and Pio Terei. “The aim has been to make it an enjoyable and refreshing experience,” says writer and producer John Cowan. “Nine hours is a lot of video, but because of the variety and the rich vein of humour that runs throughout the course, people love watching it. It gives the skills and strategies that will help them to cope, to look after themselves and to help their grandchildren thrive.”


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