It Takes a Village to Raise a Grandchild Collaborative Workshop – Event Summary
The University of Prince Edward Island and Building GRAND-Families Inc. co-hosted the second It Takes a Village to Raise a Grandchild Collaborative Community Workshop. Led by Dr. Christina Murray and Mr. Don Avery,with funding from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Engagement Grant, this workshop brought together grandparents raising their grandchildren (grand-families) with service providers and policy makers.
This ground-breaking event was held at the Rodd Royalty Hotel in Charlottetown, PEI on Oct 7, 2021. Believing it takes a village to raise a grandchild, we welcomed over 60 delegates to engage in conversations about the experiences of grandparents raising their grandchildren and those working to support these families either as practitioners or policy makers. Working together, delegates identified key issues impacting grand-families on Prince Edward Island. Through this exercise over 400 issues were identified.
We then identified priority issues. Each table brainstormed strategies and solutions, possibilities, and opportunities that could address these issues. Groups shared their recommendations and the specific actions that could be taken to strengthen programs and policies for grand-families. Below are some of the key recommendations identified by delegates:
- Provide more financial support – to be on par with foster family compensation and supports
- Develop a grand-family best start program that includes mental health supports
- Create a grand-family navigator and advocate that can help grandparents access available services and supports
- Have a less siloed approach in government that provides a one stop shop for grand-families
- Provide legal support in the form of finance and access to lawyers
- Revise current legislations to acknowledge, protect and promote the rights of grandparents and grand-families
- Offer respite care and additional wholistic supports; particularly in mental health, that address the intergenerational needs of grandparents and grandchildren.
Delegates acknowledged that addressing these issues is an enormous task but something that can be achieved when people come together for open sharing and discussions, such as what occurred during the workshop. Delegates also acknowledged that addressing the needs of grand-families is not something that can be solved by government alone. It will take a village of grandparents, practitioners, and researchers working with government, to move forward on the actions required to make a real difference and improve the lives of grandfamilies across Prince Edward Island.
At the end of the workshop, we asked delegates to write an ending to the phrase “Wouldn’t it be great if…” One grandparent wrote, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could all work together to make what has been said at this workshop today a reality.” We also asked delegates to share in one word what family is to them. You also told us that family is love, it is joy, it is complicated, it is hope and it is forever.
Like many of our delegates, we believe that family is EVERYTHING! We look forward to continuing to work with families, practitioners and policy makers in the It Takes a Village to Raise a Grandchild project in 2022. We believe that the Province of Prince Edward Island will be a Canadian leader in the development of policies and practices that address the needs of grand-families.
Dr. Christina Murray, Principal Investigator
It Takes a Village to Raise a Grandchild
University of Prince Edward Island
- On Monday September 14, 2020, we met with our very first Child Advocate for Prince Edward Island. Stay tuned for further details as we plan to reschedule a meeting with Mr. Marvin Bernstein, PEI’s first Child Advocate, in the near future to bring him up to date on what we are finding is lacking in policy and support.
- In October of 2020 we met for the second time with our Premier, Mr. Dennis King, and our Minister of Social Development and Housing, Mr. Ernest Hudson, to talk about the need and policy for those Grandfamilies who are supporting their Grandchildren with or without support. Stay tuned for further details as we plan on another meeting with the Premier and Minister of Social Development to engage in further dialogue about this phenomenon.
- We have begun our research with Dr. Christina Murray from UPEI by interviewing Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren to find out what the issues are surrounding this phenomenon.
- Since Covid-19 has affected all Canadians, we here on Prince Edward Island have been vigilant about what we do to stop the spread and PEI has done an excellent job in doing so. Please stand by for further updates on what we as Islanders are doing on our part to help with this pandemic.