Catholic Charities’ Program helps relatives raise relatives

Participants in Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s Relatives Raising Relatives program gather with program staff for one of the program’s monthly meetings.

Caregivers who find themselves raising their relatives’ children are able to access a program that may prove to be a valuable resource.

Through Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s Relatives Raising Relatives program, caregivers, who through a variety of circumstances have taken on the responsibility of raising their relative’s children, are able to receive support, advocacy, and information on how to access other beneficial programs.

Currently serving more than 50 families throughout Oswego County, Catholic Charities’ Relatives Raising Relatives program helps families deal with the emotions and challenges of raising their relative’s children.

Program Coordinator Jonathan Gilmore said, “The Relatives Raising Relatives program provides caregivers with the knowledge and resources they need to provide proper support without being judgmental. The staff and I work closely with families in the program as we provide emotional support, recreational opportunities, and advocacy.”

Program staff meets monthly, or more often if needed, to assess their relationship and offer assistance with any issues the family may be experiencing such as communicating with children, dealing with behavior problems, loss, and developing advocacy skills.

“We ensure that families are aware of the support that is available to them,” said Gilmore. “We educate them about, navigating the service system, and refer them to other programs, either at Catholic Charities or another human service agency, that can help them successfully address any specific challenges they may be dealing with.

The goal of the Relatives Raising Relatives program is to make it a comfortable fit so that they can eventually function as a family unit without the need for any services.”

While the support and education the families receive from the program’s staff is immeasurable, the bonds they develop with other families and the support they provide for each other is vital to the success of the program.

“Through themed group sessions families are able to learn from each other as they share their experiences and discuss how each family deals with similar struggles that they face,” noted Gilmore.

“We have also established a phone tree so that families are able to stay in touch between the group sessions. “It is important that families realize they are not alone and that their family environment is not unique,” he added.

“We are happy to offer the Relatives Raising Relatives Program as it is a valuable resource that provides these families with the support, advocacy and encouragement they need.”

Those seeking more information on the Relatives Raising Relatives program may call Gilmore at Catholic Charities of Oswego County at 598-3980.

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