PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 11, 2013 — As the Latino community grows in the United States and locally, state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams is responding by expanding his “Helping Hands Kinship Care” initiative to Hispanic residents of the 8th Senatorial District and beyond.
This latest free workshop will be presented in Spanish at Concilio, 705 N. Franklin St., Philadelphia, running from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday, Oct. 26. Handouts will be in Spanish and English.
“This popular event has helped dozens of English-speaking grandparents and relatives in my district who have struggled to care for children who are part of their family but are not ‘their own’,” Williams said. “Yet, their Spanish-speaking counterparts struggle with the same issues and, often, they must cope with language barriers on top of that. It’s my hope that we can lift some of those burdens, on behalf of the children and those who care for them.”
A free continental breakfast will start the day. Free child care will also be provided by volunteers from Temple’s Intergenerational Center, some of whom speak Spanish.
The Latino population in America has grown past 35 million, according to the latest census tallies, and more and more Latino people are settling into Philadelphia and Delaware counties, Williams said.
“These are people who have become our friends and neighbors, hard-working people who despite their best efforts still face challenges,” he said. “It’s critical that we extend crucial kinship care tips to help them lead better lives here to help this region grow and prosper.”
Concilio Executive Director Joanna Otera-Cruz will welcome participants and introduce Williams at 9:30 a.m. State Sen. Larry Farnese is also scheduled to participate.
Among the day’s highlights is a panel to discuss important topics – how to deal with a child’s separation anxiety; depression, bad behavior or any family drama created by a new situation; and understanding the legal rights and responsibilities of a kinship caregiver.
Featured panelists include Ada Vidal from Tree of Life; Ismael Alvarez, Children’s Crisis Treatment Center; Tighe Burns, esquire, Community Legal Services; and Iris Violeta Colón-Torres, who will moderate.
In parts of Philadelphia, 1 in 5 children aged 17 and younger are raised by a grandparent. There are more than 7 million children living in homes where grandparents or other relatives are the head of the house, according to AARP. In Pennsylvania, more than 81,000 children live in homes where grandparents and other caregivers are responsible for them.
Nationwide, more than 7 million children live with grandparents. That’s 30 percent higher than 20 years ago and the number is still rising, according to the U.S. Census. Pennsylvania has the third-largest elderly population in the nation and it will continue to climb, experts predict.
About 1 in 5 of the grandparents who serve as a primary caregiver lives in poverty.
“In many households, grandparents and other relatives become kinship caregivers because the parents in these cases are working several jobs or are suffering life’s many challenges: substance abuse, illness and death, abuse and neglect, economic hardship, incarceration, divorce, domestic violence, and other family and community crises,” Williams said.
The Urban Institute says 1 in 6 children nationwide who are being raised by a kinship caregiver is Latino. Language barriers present an added obstacle for those most in need of help.
Williams has fought for Pennsylvania to create a pilot program to help grandparents serving as the primary caretakers of their grandchildren.
Such a program would require the Department of Public Welfare to help participants with rental housing and daycare assistance, provide access to social service professionals, and open doors to childcare and custody education. It would also provide limited assistance to non-profit organizations dedicated to expanding the availability of intergenerational housing.
Attendees needing child care during the workshop can pre-register for it at Concilio by calling (215) 627-3100.
For details on the Oct. 26 Spanish Kinship Care Workshop, call Williams’ office, 215-492-2980 or visit his website: www.senatoranthonyhwilliams.com