Third annual conference for kinship caregivers takes place September 22 in Edgewood
“Relatives Matter: Helping You Help Your Family,” an annual conference for kinship caregivers, takes place Friday, September 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at The EPICENTER at Edgewood, 1918 Pulaski Highway, Edgewood.
Kinship caregivers are relatives who assume the full-time care of a child whose parents are unable to do so for various reasons. Often, kinship caregivers are grandparents but could also be an aunt, uncle, other relatives or a non-relative adult who has a longstanding relationship with the child or family. Kinship caregivers play an important role in keeping families together, and support for them from the community is vital.
The keynote address will focus on “Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership” and will be delivered by the organization’s president/founder, Shari Scher. She will discuss the effects of parental incarceration on children and how to address and counteract potentially negative effects. Scher will also discuss the ACEs Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences), which will be the focus of an afternoon film.
Following the keynote address will be breakout sessions on various topics: “Re-entry– When Parents Return to the Family,” “Family Law Panel,” “Navigation: Your Child’s Educational Needs: IEPs & 504,” “Renewing Self: A Spiritual and Emotional Health Guide to ‘Refilling Your Cup,'” “Financial Assistance for Kinship Caregivers” and “Navigating the Changing Family Dynamics.”
A midday lunch break focuses on resources offered by Harford County Public Library.
In the afternoon there will be a screening of the film “Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope” followed by a discussion. The film illustrates how exposure to ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences, discussed in the keynote address) can negatively affect health, education and financial security as adults and how to foster resilience in childhood.
A resource and benefits fair will be held throughout the day and will include displays from Harford County Department of Social Services, Harford County Community Services: Local Management Board, Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy, Family & Children’s Services, Healthy Harford/HealthLink, Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group, Catholic Charities, PPEMS, Harford County Public Library, W.A.G.E. Connection and Office of Family Court Services.
The conference is free of charge to kinship caregivers and includes continental breakfast and lunch. Professionals in the field of kinship caregiving (such as social workers) are welcome to attend for a nominal fee.
Registration is requested by September 15 by visiting hckinshipnavigation.weebly.com.
Sponsors of the conference are Harford County Department of Social Services, Harford County Government and Harford County Public Library.
“As the opioid epidemic continues to grow, more children are living with relatives. Relatives, especially grandparents, often make themselves available to be the kinship caregivers of the children, avoiding foster care placement. Support is needed for both the children and kinship caregivers,” said Caity Lovett, navigator, Harford County Kinship Program and conference chair. “The goal of the Relatives Matter conference is to educate and provide resources for caregivers and those professionals who support caregivers in the community, so they can meet the needs of the children in their care and better ensure a healthy life.”