Did you know that more than 15,000 children in NH are living primarily with their grandparents? There are countless grandparents, family members, and close family friends who have stepped up to be the primary caregiver for students right here in the North Country. This month we asked Hayley Beroney; grandparent caregiver / now adoptive mom to share her experience.

Can you tell us about some of the challenges that have come with being a kinship caregiver?

The most challenging part of this experience is that I had to come to terms with why I had my grandchildren. Most people do not realize that you learn that your child or relative is in a bad place at the same time you inherit these little lives to take care of. Most relatives lose their jobs, friends, and their savings. In my case having to let go of my daughter to save her children was the most difficult decision. 

How has your relationship with your grandchildren evolved over time? What special moments or memories stand out to you?

My girls are trauma based. My middle girl was suffering from so many different diagnosis that I did not think we would make it through. My relationship with her is unbreakable now. My girls have made the decision that I am mom. My favorite memories are when my girls defeat a trigger or accomplish things that others thought they could not do. 

Now more than ever, there are other grandparents, family members, friends who have stepped up and are raising someone else's child(ren) but it can feel quite isolating. What advice would you give to other grandparents who find themselves in a similar situation? What resources or organizations have been particularly helpful to you?

Isolation definitely comes with this experience. I recommend looking for a kinship program. Facebook groups for relative care is another resource I have used.

Just like there are more grandparents raising their grandkids there are more kids being raised by their grandparents or other family members. How does that impact the children? Do you have any tips or suggestions for providers you interact with e.g. doctors, teachers, neighbors, coaches, their friends parents, etc?

These children having a difficult time with why they are in this situation. The older the child the more they remember. These children are trauma based and that needs to be taken into account. Providers need to remember to respect the caregiver. The caregiver had taken on and given up more than they can imagine. They need support not a hard time. The caregiver and the children need to be treated as a normal family. 

How do you balance the roles of grandparent and parent? What are some of the joys and difficulties you've experienced in this dual role?

I miss being the Nana so badly. When I became a grandma, it was amazing. There comes a point when the dual roles ends and you have to be the parent. The joys are I get to watch them learn and grow daily. I am there for them all the time. The difficult part is losing who you are in this process.

How do you take care of your own well-being while caring for your grandchildren? What self-care strategies have been important for you?

Self-care has been one of my difficulties. I tend to worry and care for everyone else before I think of myself. I know have found a couple of amazing women that I trust and that my children love that remind me to take time for me. I have found that most relatives try to hide their feelings and forget about themselves. My advise is to cry if you need to, leave the room, take a breather, and most of all grieve. These things are all self-care. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with others who may be touched by your story as a grandparent raising / adopting their grandchildren?

Please remember that you are not alone. Know that you are doing a great thing for these children. I also know how angry and hurt that you are. I know that most grandparents blame themselves. Remember this is not your fault and the anger will go away. Also know that with time it does get easier and your emotions will settle. I hope and wish that all relative caregivers find love and peace in raising these wonderful children.

Did you know The Family Resource Center offers a free Kinship Caregiver program? Services include resources, referrals, case management, support, home visiting, Parent Cafes, and support groups.

FMI about Kinship Resources: BROCHURE here.

Back to School SEL Tips

1. Get to know students. ❤️Start building those relationships from Day 1!

2. Create shared agreements. 🗣️Include students in shaping their schools and classrooms.

3. Set goals. ✨Help students make a plan to reach their goals.

4. Welcome families warmly at back-to-school night. 🤝Build bridges by modeling SEL.

5. Check in with yourself and colleagues. 🤔

Find out how to better support each other. Share these tips and find the downloadable

PDF here:SEL Tips

 #ReadySetSEL  #LeadingwithSEL 🎒

Have you heard??? The Coos Coalition has revamped their website. It now includes a quick and easy referral form (for parents / caregivers and / or professionals to complete). In this ONE spot, connect your family with ALL available supports and services they are interested in. A Resource Navigator will help them through the entire process.


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