‘Grandfamilies' program offers help to Utahns raising grandchildren

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Cases involving parents with drug issues are behind a complicated trend in Utah: a growing number of grandparents raising their children's children. One service organization in Utah offers these "Grandfamilies" a life line.

Vickie Ipson and her husband first had to accept their daughter was hooked on meth, then they had to decide what to do with her children. They'd already raised their family, but they took their daughter's children in anyway.

"I thought, ‘Hmm, this isn't for me.' I let a few months go by, and finally I was at my wit's end. I had to have something to help me," Ipson says.

That's when she learned about the Grandfamilies program through the Children's Service Society. It provides classes, avenues for financial resources or simply support.

In Ipson's case, every person attending her class had a daughter hooked on meth. She knew she wasn't alone.

"I know that when I first started, I walked in there like a whooped puppy," Ipson said. "I went out empowered, and I was able to take these little kids on."

The Children's Service Society is Utah's oldest social services organization, but Grandfamilies is relatively new. It was started amid a wave of abused and neglected children whose parents were hooked on drugs.

Right now, the organization estimates 60,000 Utah children are being raised by grandparents, and fewer than 5 percent will return to their parents.

"A child has a right to know that there's going to be somebody there for this child, from the time there's a crisis until they're grown up, and this provides that," said Jacci Graham, with the Children's Service Society.

The program offers positive outcomes for children and for taxpayers, given foster care services cost around $33,000 a year per child.

For more information on the Grandfamilies program, CLICK HERE.

E-mail: dwimmer@ksl.com

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Nadine Wimmer


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