Grandparenting forum set for Saturday

LAWRENCEVILLE - For many, grandparenting is a weekend and holiday type of job, but county officials are finding this is not necessarily true.

According to a 2006 Census America Community Survey, 14,765 grandparents in Gwinnett had grandchildren younger than 18 living with them.

County Health and Human Services Division spokeswoman Melanie Miller said in response to the growing numbers her division and the Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute are planning a forum this weekend specifically aimed at grandparents raising their grandchildren.

"We're getting people together because we know that there are a lot of grandparents out there raising grandchildren," Miller said. "We're showing them the different outlets available and connecting them to the resources they need. Looking at the numbers we see that this is a problem that needs to be addressed."

The event, scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, will include state representatives for a panel discussion, information on support for grandparents and a resource directory for all who attend.

Free child care for children 2 years and older will be provided as will refreshments.

Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by calling 770-455-7602 ext. 103 and leaving your full name, phone number, e-mail address and number of people attending.

"We hope we get a good response because a lot just don't know what's out there," Miller said.

While it's recognized help is needed for the growing number of grandparents needing information regarding such things as child care, health insurance and funds to raise their grandchildren, GNLI 2008 participant Millie Linville said she's not sure what the outcome for the county after the forum will be.

"We wanted to do something that would make a difference in the senior community," Linville said. "Gwinnett doesn't have anything for grandparents raising grandchildren. As far as bringing resources to the county, I'm not sure what the outcome will be."

Linville said the goal of the forum is to connect the grandfamilies with the resources available throughout the state and retain that information to provide to grandparents looking for resources in the future.

According to Linville, the growing number of grandparents in parental roles has also been a state concern, with the Department of Family Services and the Department of Human Resources working to connect families with state resources.

"We're hoping to generate interest and raise awareness," Linville said of this weekend's program. "We're hoping to have a minimum of 50 but we are planning for 50 to 100 people."

SideBar: If You Go

· What: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren in Gwinnett forum

· Where: First United Methodist Church of Lawrenceville, 395 W. Crogan St., Lawrenceville

· When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday

· Special information: This is a free event open to the public, but R.S.V.P. is required.