A place for grandparents raising grandchildren

Duet has been in the Valley for more than 30 years, working on improving the quality of life for older adults. Duet is an interfaith nonprofit and offers services to people of all faiths. Their primary areas of focus are: connecting homebound adults who are no longer able to drive with caring volunteers who provide rides to the store or medical appointments; support groups for family caregivers; training nurses in different faith communities to help them establish health programs within their local congregations; and assistance for grandparents raising grandchildren.

The last program, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, provides support groups, workshops, activities for families, respite care, legal assistance and information and referral for grandparents who, for a variety of reasons are raising their grandchildren.

According to Duet’s website, in Arizona, more than 100,000 children are being raised by their grandparents or other relatives. Nationwide, that number is more than 5 million. Many parents are unable to take care of their children due to substance abuse, incarceration, mental illness, child abuse or death.

Once a grandparent looking for assistance contacts Duet, they will be referred to resources that will help them in their unique situation. They also offer monthly support groups in the East Valley, Central Phoenix and the far West Valley. “It’s a place where grandparents can go to meet up with other grandparents. We call them grandfamilies,” says Shelly Everson, public relations coordinator for Duet. “They can go and get the support they need. We also have a lot of partnerships with groups across the Valley, where, for example, a grandparent is in need of information about custody, we can help with that. We are not a legal service, but we can provide resources.”

Because grandparents don’t often get a break from parenting duties, Duet offers respite assistance for grandparents age 55 and older. Funds may be available to pay for part (or all, in some circumstances) of registration fees or tuition for camps, after-school activities, lessons and enrichment classes.

Duet also plans monthly outings so that grandparents and their grandchildren can meet others in similar situations and participate in fun activities to places like McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch, Arizona Science Center and recently, an overnight trip to Tombstone. There is also a Grandfamilies Holiday Party planned for Dec. 15 that is free to attend, but registration is required.

On Nov. 17, Duet is holding a Gaining Guardianship of Your Grandchild workshop at their location at 555 W. Glendale Ave. in Phoenix from 3 to 5 pm. Volunteer lawyers from Children’s Law Center through Community Legal Services will be assisting grandparents with a guardianship petition, providing legal advice and answering questions regarding uncontested guardianship. Space is limited, and reservations can be made by calling 602-274-5022 ext. 20.

“We are providing resources for a segment of the population that you don’t necessarily think of when you are thinking of the traditional American family,” says Shelly. “The program is very popular, and we have a ton of demand in the Valley.”

For more information on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren or other programs that Duet offers, visit duetaz.org.

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