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Grandfamily Resource Centers: Grandfamily Resource Centers Library Partnership

GrandFamily Resource Centers Library Partnership

photo of grandfamily resource centerThe number of children living in Grandparent headed households is rising. New Census data is expected to show that this is becoming of epic proportions. The problem affects all races, ages and incomes due to many issues: divorce, neglect, death, incarceration, unemployment, abuse and substance abuse, abandonment or military service.

One way to assist Grandparents Raising Grandchildren in South Carolina is the creation of GrandFamily Resource Centers located in public libraries. This offers one location—the public library--where Grandparents can go to receive information that will assist them with the variety of issues. While it can benefit families raising other family members, it focuses on the grandparent-grandchildren connection due to the generation gap that can make the parenting particularly difficult for a grandparent. It is important that this be more than simply a collection of books or other items but that as a resource center, it also includes a kind of personal support and programs that a library can offer as well as information.

The library is already a trusted place for finding information, assistance and programming. Many libraries have resources on a variety of topics including parenting, healthy cooking, home repair, legal assistance, financial assistance, programs for older adults (computer classes, health checks, legal clinics) as well as resources for school aged children such as books and tutoring programs. It is not just a collection, it is a center. It provides personal assistance to guide grandparents towards resources and also hosts support groups. The goal is to provide one place that can provide information to assist the grandparent who is “parenting again.”

GrandFamily Resource Centers will include a Resource Collection, Grandparents Chair, signage and marketing materials, volunteer training, support groups and staff support. The State Library will assist with the setting up of the collections and training for libraries who want to open a GrandFamily Resource Center.

The Resource Center model is easily replicated at any library location and includes the following components:

  • Collection (Designated in one area with signage) 
    Materials which include books, audiobooks on cassette/CD, DVDs/VHS tapes, pamphlets, handouts, magazines and children’s materials. Libraries often already have related materials on more general subjects to supplement the collection, such as other grandparent or parenting books, books on literacy or reading skills, children’s books in English and Spanish featuring grandmothers, grandparents or nontraditional families. Libraries should look to purchase audio and video material, materials in other languages, magazines and similar materials. They may also need to print or reprint the brochures and guides.
  • Organization/Signage 
    Libraries may also need to purchase special holders for any materials that do not fit into standard shelves (such as acrylic pamphlet holders/handout holders) and signage.
  • Grandparents Chair 
    A chair is purchased, usually by a Friends Group or local community support (in this case the grant) for the purchase of a “Grandparents Chair.” This is designated for grandfamilies—a typical sign will say “Reserved for Grandparents” and is tangible display that grandparents raising grandchildren are always welcome at the library. It also gives grandparents a special place and makes for a nice reading spot.
  • Grandparents Support Group 
    Grandparents Support Group: there is a model for training of facilitators to run a grandparents support group. It is not therapy, simply a safe place to discuss issues facing grandparents raising their grandchildren and exchange ideas. It often gives people in the community a chance to come together and meet with those who are experiencing the same issues.
  • Staff Support 
    A designated staff person is needed to maintain the collection and oversee the effort at the library. The State Library can also host a training session for librarians who are the point person for the centers in their library and for those interested in being the facilitator for the support groups.

Additionally, there is a GRC Binder to be kept at the Reference Desk which includes helpful information for library staff about the collection, FAQ’s and other ready reference information.