Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kinship Care and Substance Abuse

Last week I got a sweet telephone call from Helen Love, producer of The Senior
, a weekly 0ne-hour radio program from Detroit Area Agency on Aging. In an interview, she wanted me to discuss issues facing kinship caregivers based on items in my book, A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children. Paul Bridgewater, President & CEO of the Detroit
Agency on Aging is the host and interviewer of the show. Paul and his wife are also grandparents raising a grandchild.
The show, which airs on WGPR, 107.5 FM in Detroit, gave me an opportunity to review the book that I had worked so hard to bring to fruition. I am pleased to say that the information holds up well. .. so far. But the experience of reviewing guides for kinship families also brought home, again, the reality of why children are living with relatives that are not their parents. So often it is drugs, alcohol or some other addiction that interferes with parenting. It is true that death or debilitating health issues contribute to some families resulting in kinship care. But the truth is too many children come to their relative families because their own parents are suffering the consequences of substance abuse.
I think alot about this problem in our society. On one hand we are bombarded with images of alcohol use. We laugh at drunkenness. We giggle about use of illegal substances.
We have built a huge tolerance to the use of drugs, legal and illegal. We cannot bring ourselves to stretch our thinking beyond what we see and tolerate - such as the terrible killings as a result of marketing illegal drugs, or the tremendous cost to all of us in almost any area of addressing the issue. In the 1920s we learned that prohibition of alcohol created problems greater than the original pain to individuals, much like we are experiencing today in the crimes that prohibited drugs bring.
Deeper thinking on the subject brings up all sorts of considerations. We will have to face this issue someday. In the mean time, where children are concerned, the consequences of legal or illegal substances have a tremendous affect on families often leaving children to live with relatives or in the foster care of strangers.
Much of the following news updates deal with these issues for all families. I hope some of you will find the information helpful. For relative caregivers, you are the port in the storm for most of the children. God bless you all.

1. In Michigan Recovering Oriented System of Care (ROSC) has published 16 Guiding Principles of the organization. To read the newsletter from this Department of Community Health check

2. Kinship caregivers and all families with young drivers may want to check the
excellent Safety Network Newsletter. Lots of information and guidelines. Check the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, Lynn Sutfin,

3. Webinar February 9 2-3:30 for human service providers, Achieving Excellence and Innovation in Family, School, and Community Engagement from the U.S. Department of Education. For information or to register for this national program on collaboration contact
Lacy Wood, or 800-476-6861.

4. Check out Parent Action for Healthy Kids information at

5. Michigan Fatherhood Coalition will be having its 9th Annual Conference for Dads and Service Providers, February 18 in Howell, Michigan. $45, scholarships available. Contact Duane Wilson,

6. Throughout February and March Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will
be recruiting for 500 "highly qualified graduates" in human services to serve in Children's
Protective Services, Foster Care, Adoption, and licensing for juvenile homes. Contact Sarah
Davis for more information:
Thanks to Luanne Beaudry from Prevention Network (parenting awareness month - PAM) for all of the above information,

To attend the annual Conference on Community-Based Aging Services in Springfield, IL,
March 10 (which has significant info for kinship services) contact

IEP Meeting Tips
The February online newsletter of northern Ohio kinship care services has an excellent article on preparing for IEP meetings with your special education student. IEP is the process for Independent Educational Plan which brings a number of service providers together to help devise an educational plan for the success of each student, especially those in special education. This is a very helpful article: .
Thank you Arcelia Parsons for continued work with grandfamilies.

Mentor Training
Community Skills for Mentors is an on-going training program from Brookdale Foundation
and the National Mentoring Center. Check the website for this valuable training at . For more from Brookdale Foundation check
the website

Generations United recently received a grant from Brookdale Foundation for the National Center on Grandparents website. Go to Generations United,, and check the
Grandfamilies tab on the left column for more information.
Tell us your news at Check for more information about A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other
Relatives As Parents
, or order the book from

That's it for today. whew!

1 comment:

J. A. Barnes said...

Thank you for this page and the information. I found this doing a search for my own website

I can't wait to explore the resources you've listed and find out if we have a radio station or any other media outlets like yours in MI in Ohio.