Families are crazy busy! Days are filled with endless responsibilities and tasks related to work, school, meetings, activities, homework, home care, and seemingly relentless errands. The families in Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Ulster County RAPP (Relatives as Parents Program) are no different and often are additionally burdened with worry or grief over loved ones, custody-related meetings, court hearings and on-going appointments with specialists, schools, child care, etc. It is not unusual in RAPP to have a grandmother in her 60’s caring for her three grandchildren under the age of ten, or a 72-year-old grandmother caring for her two-year-old granddaughter. Sometimes it all feels like too much. The challenges for these families are staggering but the love and commitment to family are pure inspiration. Caregivers in the RAPP program share a bond with the child(ren) they care for in a deep and profound way. “RAPP to us means a safe, understanding place to share with others as we strive to become the best we can be,” says grandmother Mary.
The needs of RAPP families are forthcoming and diverse which is why Ulster County RAPP has a variety of new programs to meet a multitude of needs. In addition to training and education workshops for caregivers related to parenting, nutrition and resource management, time together as a family is honored with Family Nights and Community Outings where group members have the opportunity to come together, have fun, socialize with other members who can relate to the joys and challenges of being a kinship family. Additionally, there are more individualized programs to support families such as a Support Group for caregivers, Teen Nights for youth ages 12-19 and a 4-H Youth Group for children ages 5-11 years. All of these get-togethers are geared towards making connections, sharing experiences, building relationships and hands-on learning that open the door for better peace of mind, acceptance, self-confidence, skill-building and optimism about their situation and the world. All programs are offered at no cost to the family. “The RAPP program has made me realize I am not alone in my situation of raising grandchildren at 65 years-old,” says RAPP member, Sherry.
Last updated January 24, 2020