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A Word from the Program Director

With the temperatures heating up outside and Independence Day being right around the corner, I wish each of you and your families a safe, fun, and memorable summer. 


July kicks off the start of a new fiscal year. The GRANDfamilies program at Children's Service Society of Utah benefits from a variety of funding sources that include, but are not limited to: contracts and grants from the Utah State Legislature and Department of Human Services, grants through local and international businesses and non-profit organizations, and private donations from businesses and individuals throughout the state. Without all of these funds the GRANDfamilies program would be unable to exist. Please join us in thanking our supporters around the state, country, and world for helping us to fulfill our mission and to serve families like yours. 


In the coming months we at GRANDfamilies will be unveiling an updated curriculum for our existing psychoeducational support groups, the implementation of a new teen focused support program, and the opening of our fifth GRANDfamilies office that will be located in St. George. Additionally, we will be releasing our second edition of our new Clinical Newsletter soon. 


Please help us in thanking our supporters, grant and contract holders, and donors. Also, please help us spread the word of the updates and changes that will be coming in this new fiscal year. Finally, if there are any specific topics that you would like us to talk about in the clinical newsletter please let us know; We are looking for some ideas on topics that will help support the families that we work with. 


Wishing you all the best,

Rich Johnston, CMHC

GRANDfamilies Program Director/Adoption Program Director

20 Years of Kinship Support

Tina Brown, one of the participants of our very first GRANDfamilies group in 2002, recently told us, “I was part of the first group. It really met our family’s needs when no other programs existed.” The 2000 US Census indicated that at that time there were 37,000 children in Utah living with their grandparents; However, as Tina had experienced, there were very few community resources available for grandparents and other relatives acting as caregivers for their kin. 


Dr. Beth Q. Beck, who was the Executive Director of the Children’s Service Society in 2002, shared, “We have had grandparents parenting grandchildren call our agency to inquire about services that are available to them to help with legal issues and economic needs.” As a result of those many calls, as well as Dr. Beck’s experience working with kinship caregivers in her previous role as a public-school educator and administrator, she saw a need that CSS could fill for those unique families. She spearheaded the creation of the GRANDfamilies program, and on August 14, 2002, the very first GRANDfamilies educational support group was held at the Salt Lake City library. 


Today we have grown from working with just a few families like the Browns, to serving hundreds of families in Salt Lake, Tooele, Davis, Weber, and Cache counties— And just this month we leased an office in St. George so our services can expand to Washington county as well. 


It has been our sincere pleasure to assist the thousands of families we have seen through our program since 2002. We celebrate not only our 20th anniversary this year, and the successes of our program; but also, the successes of the many families whose lives have touched our own. Thank you for being part of GRANDfamilies!


Check out our video on the history of GRANDfamilies at the Children’s Service Society:

September is Kinship Care Month

In Utah there are 21,000 children being raised by kin without a parent in the home. GRANDfamilies, a program of Children’s Service Society, works to provide support, guidance and resources to these families throughout the state. September is National Kinship Care Month, when kinship families are celebrated for their heroic work. Each year throughout September GRANDfamilies joins in recognizing kinship families through our social media and an annual townhall meeting. Follow our Facebook page: Children’s Service Society of Utah, to stay up to date on our Kinship Care Month celebrations.

Thank You to Our Donors!
Community Partner Spotlight

Little Lambs Foundation for Kids

Little Lambs Foundation for Kids is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides diapers and baby supplies to low-income families and comfort kits to children who are placed in foster-care, entering emergency shelters and escaping domestic violence.

Little Lambs Foundation for Kids provides Utah children and families with basic necessities that they can't afford or otherwise do not have access to.


With your support our foundation stocks local emergency safe houses and the Division of Child and Family Services offices with hands-on resources to distribute to children and families in desperate need.

Upcoming at Children's Service Society
Get to Know GRANDfamilies Staff

Hi there, I’m Abbie and I shamelessly love pineapple on my pizza! I was born and raised in SLC, UT and I am an only child (unless you’re my parents, and count my dog, Gracie, as my sister). My family is originally from Southern California, and I used to be so bummed that I did not grow up as a surfer girl in Redondo Beach, since I’m not a fan of the snow. I went to Utah State University and started studying Elementary Education and Deaf Education, but then decided that Social Work was the path I needed to be on, and I transferred to the Utah State University Tooele Extension Campus and graduated with my BSW in 2019. In my free time, I love to play my ukulele, fuel my SpongeBob SquarePants obsession, and try new restaurants of all cuisines. Also, if you happen to be driving around town, you may catch me singing bad karaoke in my Jeep, which I named, Ferris. I’m excited to grow in my role in Adoption & GRANDfamilies and get to know the wonderful families in our programs! 

Hi everyone, I’m Becca Pankow, one of the TWO Becca’s in Salt Lake County! I was born and raised in Park City, UT and I am a solo parent to a sweet little 6-year-old boy. I still live in Park City and love being able to take hikes in my own back yard and escape the scorching heat of Salt Lake during the summer. I graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree of Social Work in 2021, and I am halfway through my first semester of graduate school in the U of U’s Social Work program. I have a personal connection to kinship care in my family and my son and I currently reside with my parents while I complete school. I am close to my family and consider my siblings to be my very best friends. The majority of my free time is spent doing arts and crafts, playing at the park, and building Lego sets with my son. I love to explore and travel with my son and every summer we spend time at my family’s cabin in the woods off the grid and unplugged from our screens. I am so grateful to be a part of GRANDfamilies and I am excited to continue working with and meeting new kinship families!

Summer Activities

GRANDfamilies at Children's Service Society of Utah | 801-355-7444
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