NCHS serves grandparents during pandemic

The Nebraska Children’s Home Society’s 2018-2019 WIN grant has enabled the expansion of the Raising Your Grandchildren program originally based in Omaha to Lincoln and across Nebraska.

The society’s final report to WIN indicates that “as a result of this grant, NCHS has succeeded in reaching families across Nebraska, lowering geographic barriers for grandparents who would be hesitant to drive long distances to receive services.”

Lana Temple-Plotz, M.S., chief executive officer at NCHS, said the program “looked very different” as they dealt with pandemic conditions.

“NCHS worked quickly to develop effective virtual programming, and this new virtual format extended the program’s reach to vulnerable populations across Nebraska,” Temple-Plotz wrote.

“Because of you, more kinship families have access to the services they need to make bright futures possible for Nebraska’s children and families,” she said.

Especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the participants found the regular connections with others a welcome escape. One participant told NCHS “the information was very useful, and the laughter was very helpful.”

Highlights from the full report, which is available to WIN members in the Members Only pages of this website, include:

  • Four six-week series of Raising Your Grandchildren’s sessions involved 51 unduplicated participants, exceeding their goal by three, with participants on averaging attending six program sessions and 10 facilitated peer-support sessions.
  • Using a pre-program and post-program test, NCHS reported a 25 percent increase in those indicating they “understand my grandchildren’s emotional needs”; an increase from 50 percent to 100 percent indicating they were knowledgeable about age-appropriate expectations and that they have the resources need to care for their grandchildren.
  • With a goal of furnishing needed contacts to provide basic needs, NCHS provided direct assistance in the form of diapers, clothing, baby food and other items for 15 grandparents and 55 children, as well as directing five grandparents to NCHS’s Self-Sufficiency program for material support and financial planning assistance. During the grant period, NCHS also assisted qualifying families with rent and utility assistance as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
  • NCHS was able to promote peer support and other resources to improve the grandparents’ ability to take time to care for themselves and their well-being, in addition to family needs, which was important especially during the pandemic when many grandparent caregivers felt overwhelmed.
  • To address the challenge of technology among grandparents and caregivers of any age, NCHS developed a three-week introduction to the Raising Your Grandchildren program entitled “Together While Apart”. This program helped familiarize kinship caregivers to online services and social circles, preparing them to fully participate in the Raising Your Grandchildren program.
  • As community spaces like schools and churches and groups that usually sponsor community events closed for the pandemic, more recruiting took place online and the ratio of Raising Your Grandchildren to Ambassadors peer-support group sessions shifted to meet the self-reported needs of grandparent caregivers.