Unfortunately, grandparents raising their grandchildren is becoming more and more the norm. For various reasons, including addiction, children whose parents are either incarcerated or unable to properly care for them, are living with their grandparents.

According to the Dutchess County Office For the Aging, the 2010 Census estimated that 7.7 million children were living with grandparents and a study done at the Colorado State University show that one child in 10 had spent at least some time living with a grandparent.

If this describes you or someone you know, this can be a difficult situation to find yourself in. How do you explain things to your grandchildren? Are you able to financially and emotionally handle the stress that comes with you trying to do the best for your family? The good news is, that you are not alone.

There's a 'Relatives as Parents Program' (RAPP) supported by Millbrook-based Cornell Cooperative Extension to lend a helping hand to families who find themselves in this situation. They provide education and training to learn parenting and coping skills, offer support groups and can help get you in touch with other community-based services and resources. Plus, they can help with programs for the kids.

If you're worried about how much these services may cost, don't be, the program is partially funded by Dutchess County, the Office for the Aging, and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. If you'd like to find out more, you can attend one of the monthly RAPP support groups throughout Dutchess County.

  • Immaculate Conception Church, Lavelle Rd., Amenia – first Wednesday of every month, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
  • St. John’s Church, Wilbur Blvd., Poughkeepsie – second Thursday of every month, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
  • St. Mary’s Chapel, Bedford Ave., Fishkill – third Tuesday of every month, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

To find out more about RAPP, and to learn more about volunteering in the program, call (845) 677-8223.

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