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Maine Summit for Grandfamilies Supports Children of Absent Parents

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An all-day support program for family caregivers and social service professionals will aim to improve the lives of children whose parents are unable to care for them due to substance use, mental health or other problems, the Bangor Daily News reported on May 2.

Maine is home to at least 5,000 grandfamilies, and on May 31, the nonprofit group Families and Children Together will address their needs with an event hosted by the University of Maine.

During the morning session, consultant and family therapist Dr. Joseph Crumbley will lead a panel discussion for grandparents and other caregivers focusing on how to obtain child counseling and other services.

In afternoon session, for social workers and other family service professionals, Crumbley will discuss how to help stabilized parents in treatment or recovery resume caring for their children.

“Children are coming out of families that have been deeply affected by substance abuse or mental illness or both,” said Barbara Kates of Families and Children Together. “They've often been living in extreme poverty – we can anticipate that these children bring with them the scars of that upbringing.”

“There's a whole slew of challenges” facing caregivers in grandfamilies, according to Lenrad Kaye at the University of Maine's Center on Aging. The grandparent's authority or role as a guardian often goes unrecognized by insurance companies, schools and the legal system.

The Maine Summit for Grandfamilies will be free for families, with a $25 registration fee for professionals.

For more information, visit www.familiesandchildren.org.

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