Florida Kinship Center Notes Grandparents Day

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 11, 2009) – National Grandparents Day Sept. 13 has a special meaning for the Florida Kinship Center located in the University of South Florida School of Social Work. The center’s staff knows and has gotten close to quite a few grandparents in its role as a trainer and “Warmline” contact for grandparents who are taking care of their children’s children. 


“One could argue that Grandparents Day is just another commercially created holiday, and perhaps you might be right; but grandparents hold a special and honored position in most of our lives and many cultures, and thus should be honored,” said Florida Kinship Center Director Anne Strozier.  “It’s also important to note that Florida has the largest population of kinship caregivers in the country.” 


According to Strozier, these often retired caregivers need support and assistance to ensure that the children in their care are afforded opportunities so they will become productive, contributing members of society. Children raised by their relatives are more likely to succeed in school and have higher self-esteem than children brought up in foster care.


Grandparents affiliated with the Florida Kinship Center are examples of what can happen in the lives of women and men who thought their child-rearing days were behind them and they are not alone:

• Over 345,000 children in Florida alone are being raised by their grandparents and other relatives.

• Only 10,000 Florida children reside in foster care

• A social workers’ first choice for placement of abandoned, abused or neglected children is with relatives, before foster care – grandparents tend to be the first option.

Kinship care is valued but not rewarded by Florida systems of care.  For children under 5 years of age:

-         foster parents receive $429 per month

-         relative caregivers receive at most $242 per month


“Grandparents and other relatives sacrifice much to raise a new generation of children,” said Strozier. “Often they give up a secure income, or the ‘golden years’ of retirement and sometimes even their own health.”


Strozier reminds everyone to cherish grandparents: “Whether we still have our own grandparents in our lives or not, we should all give thanks for those grandparents, and other relative caregivers, who step up and sacrifice so much to take care of these children to ensure the survival and the achievement of these children are paramount. Relish the fond memories you have of your grandparents; create new memories with them if you are fortunate to still have them in your lives, and honor and thank those who are taking on the care of their grandchildren in their golden years.   Without grandparents and other relatives who care, so many children would truly be at a loss for love and support.”


For more information on the Florida Kinship Center and its programs, or to find out how you can support this much needed program, visit www.flkin.org; call toll-free anywhere in Florida 1-800-640-6444, or e-mail:  kinfo@flkin.org.


The University of South Florida System is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The system offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. It has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.