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Milwaukee parenting program gets much needed grant for kids raised by their grandparents

The Parenting Network was recently awarded a $100,000 grant by Bader Philanthropies, allowing the Milwaukee nonprofit to expand its mission of providing free, voluntary, confidential, and easily accessible programming for people in a parenting role, as a way to help them provide a safe and nurturing home for their children.

The funding, distributed across two years, will allow The Parenting Network to implement evidence-based parenting and family support systems specific to grandparents in order to meet the need in southeastern Wisconsin.

Across the state, nearly 75,000 children are being raised by their grandparents, according to data released by Generations United last year. The Parenting Network, the lead agency for the Southeastern Child Maltreatment Prevention Coalition (SCMPC), is comprised of organizations from Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Waukesha, and Washington counties, all of which are experts in the field of prevention education and are equipped to effectively deliver parent education and support services to strengthen underserved families.

According to 2015 data from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, nearly 600 children across The Parenting Network’s four-county service area are living with a grandparent or other non-relative, though many more go unreported.

“One of the family structures we are seeing is a growing number of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, and they are struggling,” said Joyce Felker, executive director of The Parenting Network. “These grandparents report behavioral concerns unparalleled to what they experienced when raising their own children and, together, face many of the same challenges. We are finding that Triple P meets a specific need for them.”

The Parenting Network staff is accredited in the Triple P Positive Parenting Program, an evidence-based system designed to prevent and treat behavioral and emotional problems in children that works across many kinds of family structures. The program provides simple, practical strategies to help build strong, healthy relationships, confidently manage the behavior of children, and prevents problems from developing.

With the financial support from Bader Philanthropies, The Parenting Network can reach any grandparent in this family dynamic, regardless of logistics, at no cost. Outreach to grandparents will be conducted in partnership with schools, faith-based organizations, libraries and recreation departments throughout the coalition’s geographical footprint.

“There is no wrong way for a grandparent to come through for our services,” Felker added. “Our hope is that we have reported improvements in their overall parenting practices and an improved relationship with their grandchildren.”

The Parenting Network has a goal to nearly quadruple the number of grandparents currently served, from 15 to 55, within six months. By the end of the first year of implementation, that goal is 100 parenting grandparents served through a minimum of 20 outreach events. With outreach infrastructure expanded throughout year one, the expectation is to continue to grow in year two with the remaining funding.

“Grandparents serve such a vital role in the lives of children, and in the increasingly common circumstance where they become the primary caretaker, they need and deserve the same support given to those in a more traditional parenting role,” said Daniel J. Bader, president and CEO of Bader Philanthropies. “The Parenting Network’s leadership in coordinating a multi-county effort is strengthening family bonds throughout southeastern Wisconsin.”

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