Second ‘Relatives Matter’ conference brings together more than 60 participants
More than 60 people attended the second “Relatives Matter: Caring for Children, Youth and Family,” a conference for kinship caregivers that took place September 16 at the Havre de Grace Senior Activity Center.
Kinship caregivers are relatives who assume the full-time care of a child whose parents are unable to do so for various reasons.
Colleen Hosler, senior associate at the Mosaic Group and co-creator of Families Strong, delivered the keynote address, titled “The Effect of Substance Abuse on the Family.”
In her remarks, she said, “It’s a myth that family and friends need to wait for the addict to hit rock bottom.” She added that there are ways to derail and interrupt the downward spiral of addiction with the help of a support group. “You are not powerless,” she added.
Addiction, she said, can happen in anyone’s family and needs to be discussed as a community.
Other topics discussed throughout the conference were “Legal and Financial Choices for Kinship Caregivers,” “The Changing Face of Healthcare: Your Health…Matters Now!,” “Keeping Your Kids Safe in this Online World,” “Determine Your Destiny,” “Navigating the Contents of Your Child’s IEP (What does it all mean, and how can an advocate help?)” and “Sticking Together: Kinship Care and Financial Care.”
Also discussed at the conference was the release of Generations United’s “2016 State of Grandfamilies: Children of the Opioid Epidemic.”
Participants discussed future next steps which include bringing the “Families Strong” support group model to Harford County and Grandparents Raising Children Support Group hosting speakers during the coming year.
“In planning and implementing this conference, we learned it is equally important to share the availability of resources with the kinship caregivers and service providers in the community,” said Caity Lovett, navigator, Harford County Kinship Program and conference chair. “There a gaps of care, some of which may be addressed by our community working together while others require a change in legislation at the both the state and federal level.”
The conference was sponsored by Circuit Court of Harford County-Family Court Services, Harford County Department of Social Services, Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy, Harford County Bar Foundation, Harford County Local Management Board and Harford County Public Library.
A resource fair was held during the conference. Exhibitors included Child Support, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group, Harford County Health Department, Harford County Public Library, Local Management Board, WAGE Connection-Family Investment Administration, Maryland Coalition of Families, Office of Drug Policy Control, Paramedical Personnel of Maryland, Recovery America and Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County.
For more information on kinship caregiving, visit http://hckinshipnavigation.weebly.com.