Family Resource Centers of Crestwood Children’s Center – Skip Generations Program

Team Name:

Skip Generations WisdomWork Team

Team Specifics:

Number of Team members: 6
Team has been together for:
 5 years

Team Mission/Goal:

Through the Skip Generations program, Family Resource Centers of Crestwood Children’s Center provides information, education, and support to grandparents and other caregivers in the community to strengthen their ability to care for the children in their care. The goal of the Skip Generations program is to strengthen families by providing support to grandparents and relatives who are the primary caregivers for children whose parents are unable to assume responsibility for them. The program offers encouragement and skills to increase their confidence and competence as caregivers. In addition, the program assists in problem solving, interfacing with community systems, and helps to develop a network of support to reduce isolation. The purpose of our self-directed WisdomWork Team is to utilize the skills, interests, and experiences of volunteers, age 55 and older, to develop strategies to recruit participants from our community into the three levels of participation in the Skip Generations Program, including center-based groups and peer mentor home visits. Crestwood Children’s Center is an affiliate of Hillside Family of Agencies, a family and children services organization that provides child welfare, mental health, youth development, juvenile justice, special education, and developmental disabilities services across Central and Western New York and Prince George’s County, MD.

Team Activities:

  • Recruit new grandparents or kinship caregivers to the Skip Generations Program through personal outreach efforts
  • Provide a regular presence at Family Court and our County’s Department of Human Services in order to familiarize individuals with Skip Generations as a resource to them
  • Actively participate in the SW Community Roundtable to raise awareness of Skip Generations among the service providers serving our local families
  • Distribute program information at neighborhood and community-wide festivals, school open houses, and family events
  • Strategize around new venues for getting the word out about Skip Generations
  • Assess the effectiveness of the outreach efforts

Team Member Details:

There are currently 6 active members.  Most have had a history of participation in the Skip Generations program and indicated interest in helping to communicate this opportunity to others in the community.  They were all interviewed and made aware of the expectations of their involvement on the Team.

Team Accomplishments:

The WisdomWork Team has successfully enhanced public awareness of Skip Generations through all the outreach efforts mentioned above.  They have brought a personal “face” to the program, effectively conveying the impact of the support and resources available through the program.  They have helped to articulate the need for and potential of such services.  They have succeeded in drawing in members of our community who are kinship caregivers into Skip Generations.  Their outreach efforts continually address the reality that many caregivers are isolated and are not aware of the supports that are available to them.

Challenges:

The challenges are many and ongoing, but of note:

  • Outreach and recruitment are time-intensive and demand persistence and endurance – and are often met with few immediate results.
  • It is difficult to maintain a steady schedule of recruitment with an older volunteer base (many of whom are kinship caregivers themselves with challenging calendars and often prone to illnesses), especially when the weather is inclement and driving hazardous.

We have tried over the years to maintain a healthy enough number of volunteers on the Team, so we have a big enough pool from which to draw. We often pair team members based on transportation needs. We have provided training and ongoing support and supervision. We have an experienced volunteer coordinator who helps to facilitate the regular monthly meetings of the Team.

Lessons Learned:

  • Personal experience as a kinship caregiver is valuable in communicating an effective outreach message.
  • Strategizing, planning and support are best achieved in the context of regular group exchange.
  • Accountability and sharing of successes serve to further motivate and encourage involvement.
  • There is always a need to invite in new members to the WisdomWork Team, so a parallel process of recruitment needs to occur.