Call for Assistance for Grandparents Who Are Parenting
Prince George, B.C. – Today is Grandparents’ Day with the focus on grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.
The Parent Support Services Society is honouring those people with festivities running until 2 this afternoon at Paddlewheel Park off Hamilton Avenue. There’s live music, kids’ activities and more.
One Prince George resident who has been raising kids for 60 years now, Gerry Hendricks, has raised three of her own children, three or four who came on board through marriage, three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and now, one great-great-grandchild. Asked why she has taken that on she says “family is too hard to come by, and my granddaughter was in a place where she couldn’t have children, so I took them over.”
She says she battled the provincial ministry for nine months to get them. “I didn’t get a lawyer because it was too expensive. I did it all with my big mouth.”
She says government has not been assisting her effort. “At first they did, they helped me until the children were 19. Now they’re 19 so they’re out of the program. But a lot of people now who find themselves in the same circumstances don’t get anything from the government.”
“The government, when I was with them, paid for dentistry, doctors’ bills, prescriptions and things like that where nowadays it’s all on whoever has the children. So they don’t get anything other than a small family allowance and the GST, so basically it’s nothing.”
“So if you’ve got a child that’s on formula it’s ten to fifteen dollars every two weeks for most people, plus you’ve got diapers, wipes and all that and it’s way more than they can afford. And young mothers find themselves in the same situation.”
Gerry says she would like to see the government return to providing support for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. She says a local group, Prince George Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, is trying to get things changed. “We’ve talked to (Prince George-Valemount MLA) Shirley Bond, and that’s about as far as we’ve gone.” She says they are also trying to get fellow Liberal MLA Mike Morris on board.
MLA Bond was on hand and says “this is a very special gift, the gift of grandparenting and I have said many times that I think there is a little place in your heart that stays locked up until you have a grandchild and then suddenly you experience this new type of love.” “We’re very blessed, we have two grandsons who live here and we get to spend a lot of quality time with them.”
“But today is about thinking about those grandparents who, by necessity, are grandparenting their grandchildren all the time, full-time care, because of family circumstances.” She also says “I think there is also more work to be done and I’m the first to admit that. This is often a circumstance where a grandparent on a pension is trying to care for their grandchildren full-time. And over time changes have been made that have made that even more challenging.”
“So that’s a discussion we need to continue to have, certainly something I’ve been very passionate about. And I’ve also been a strong support of the Parent Support Services organization here. They provide hands-on technical information but also the kind of support that we’re seeing today, a celebration where grandparents who are raising their grandchildren get to come and be celebrated and spend some time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.”
She says the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren group “is something Prince George needs to know more about because there are many more in this circumstance than are reflected here today.”
Anyone interested in speaking with the grandparents’ group can do so from 10 till noon every Tuesday in Room 218 at the Prince George Native Friendship Centre.