Posted: Wednesday, September 7, 2022
Source: William Penn Foundation
Ahead of National Grandparents Day, 8 organizations receive grants to provide a variety of supportive services to help ‘grandfamilies’ thrive
PHILADELPHIA (September 7, 2022) – The William Penn Foundation today announced a set of three-year grants totaling more than $2.8 million to eight organizations that will work to improve and expand their services focused on Philadelphia “grandfamilies” – families in which grandparents or other older adult kin are the primary caregivers for young children. The grantees include small, grassroots organizations as well as large multi-service agencies. The grants will fund a range of supportive services for grandfamilies, including case management, resources and referrals, peer support groups, outreach and education, and emergency funding for basic needs. Collectively, more than 1,500 grandfamilies will receive services through this initiative annually.
In Philadelphia, more than 17,000 grandchildren are estimated to live in homes where grandparents provide their primary care. There are many reasons why young children may be raised by grandparents or family members other than their parents. Grandfamilies can result from biological parents’ challenges that include death, divorce, substance use, incarceration, job loss, and illness. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the needs of existing grandfamilies and created new ones. According to the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, in 2020, more than half (57%) of the children in foster care were in grandfamilies/kinship foster care. In Pennsylvania, it is estimated that for every one child raised by kin in foster care, there are ten being raised by kin outside of the foster care system.
In 2020, Generations United, with funding from William Penn Foundation, published the Grandfamilies of Philadelphia report. Generations United is a policy, research, technical assistance, and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of intergenerational families. The research and report were designed to help kinship service providers, educators, policymakers, funders, and other community members better understand the composition of grandfamilies in Philadelphia, their needs, the availability of services for them, and the degree to which they are aware of and able to access services. The report noted a number of challenges facing these families, including insufficient financial resources to address basic needs; difficulty navigating agency and government services; navigating the school curriculum and virtual education; and legal hurdles to achieve child and family stability.
Research shows that when grandfamilies receive the supports they need, children raised by grandparents or other relatives thrive despite the potential to face multiple challenges. Compared to children in foster care with non-relatives, children living with relatives have more stability, better behavioral and mental health outcomes, and are more likely to stay connected to siblings, other family, and cultural identity, according to Generations United.
“As we continue to focus on supporting Philadelphia children to learn and thrive from their earliest years, we know that there are many types of families with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and circumstances that merit a unique set of supports,” said Jennifer Stavrakos, Interim Director of the Great Learning Program at the William Penn Foundation. “This initiative invests in supportive services that are specifically designed to meet the needs of grandfamilies. Many children benefit from the love, support, and stability of their grandparents, relatives, or close family friends, but it can be challenging for older caregivers to assume the parenting role, navigate complex systems, and afford the expenses of raising children again.”
Generations United Executive Director Donna Butts affirms the impact of and need for providing more support for grandfamilies is essential.
“Children and youth fare better in the care of relatives,” Butts said. “Kids age out of a system; they never age out of a family.”
“We are grateful to the William Penn Foundation for supporting the Grandfamilies of Philadelphia study. It provides an important blueprint that other cities and communities can use to increase their understanding of local grandfamily populations and better serve the children and caregivers so they can thrive.”
Grants were awarded to:
- Coalition of African Communities (Africom), which has offered community services for more than 20 years to help African immigrants feel at home in Philadelphia. Africom will hire a kinship coordinator to conduct outreach to grandfamilies and connect them with resources and referrals for services. Africom will also provide workshops, support groups, and operate an emergency fund for one-time urgent expenses.
- Grand Central, which was founded over 20 years ago to improve the lives of grand/kinship caregivers by ensuring that resources, services, and systems are responsive and accountable to the special needs of these families. Grand Central will hire a case manager to increase the number of grandfamilies it can support and connect with resources and referrals for services. Grand Central will also provide workshops and peer support groups led by volunteers and operate an emergency fund for one-time urgent expenses.
- Masjid Al-Wasatiyah Wal-Itidaal, a mosque providing religious, educational, and health services to Muslim families in Southwest Philadelphia. The Masjid will hire a kinship coordinator to conduct outreach to grandfamilies and connect them with resources and referrals for services. The Masjid will also provide respite childcare, support groups, and operate an emergency fund for one-time urgent expenses.
- Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), which, in addition to housing, offers residents supportive services, including programs for youth and seniors. PHA will hire a kinship coordinator to offer services and case management to PHA’s grandfamily households with children ages 0-18 and households where a disabled adult child lives with their grandparent. PHA will also facilitate peer support groups and engage partner organizations to sponsor workshops based on needs identified by PHA grandfamilies.
- Pradera Corporation, a subsidiary of Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, a community service and economic development nonprofit that strives to protect and nurture vulnerable children and youth through adoption and foster care. Pradera Corporation will provide case management and connect grandfamilies with resources and referrals for services, including grandparents who have completed the process to formally adopt their grandchildren. Pradera will also offer English and Spanish support groups and workshops and provide professional development for its staff to support their work with grandfamilies.
- SeniorLAW Center, an independent non-profit legal services organization that seeks justice for older Pennsylvanians using the power of the law, educating the community, and advocating on local, state and national levels. SeniorLAW Center will increase the number of Philadelphia grandparents/older kinship caregivers receiving direct legal services (advice, brief services, extended representation) and increase its capacity to provide these legal services by recruiting and training 30 new pro bono attorneys and law students. SeniorLAW will also conduct outreach to Philadelphia grandfamilies, enhance access to online intake and in-person legal clinics at senior centers and other community partners, create a fund for childcare and transportation needs for court appearances, and launch both a Grandparents Justice Advisory Council and Storytelling Initiative.
- Supportive Older Women’s Network (SOWN), a pioneer in enhancing the quality of life of older adults and their families for 30 years. SOWN will increase the number of families served through its Grandfamily Resource Center and create a new case management service to link grandfamilies to needed resources. SOWN will facilitate support groups and educational workshops, hold family events, and offer individual counseling. SOWN will also develop a new outreach plan to connect with more families over the next three years.
- Turning Points for Children, a multi-service agency that provides a continuum of family support and prevention programs and serves at-risk Philadelphia families. Turning Points will hire a kinship support specialist to connect grandfamilies with resources and referrals for services and provide staff training on how to support grandfamilies. Turning Points will also facilitate support groups, provide respite childcare, emergency funds and trauma-informed behavioral and mental health supports to grandfamilies.
As part of this initiative, Generations United received a grant to convene a learning community and provide technical assistance among the grantees and other Philadelphia kinship support organizations, and Child Trends received funding to develop an evaluation plan to assess the impact of the initiative.
About William Penn Foundation
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, provide inclusive and equitable public spaces and arts and culture experiences, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. Learn more at www.williampennfoundation.org
Director of Communications
William Penn Foundation