To support these families, Las Cumbres Community Services hosts its second annual conference, “Otra Vez: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren,” Friday October 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Northern New Mexico College in Española. The conference is open to grandparents and other relatives raising a child, as well as professionals who work with families.
Over 25,000 grandparents throughout New Mexico are responsible for meeting the basic needs of live-in grandchildren. In Rio Arriba County, a whopping 60 percent of children under age 6 are under their grandparents’ care. Nationally, 2.7 million grandparents are responsible for children under age 18 who live in their homes.
The sacrifices and challenges these second-time-around caregivers face can be enormous. Many of the children are grieving the absence of their parent due to death, incarceration, mental illness or other traumatic circumstances that placed the child in the grandparents’ care. Many of the grandparents live below the poverty level, and many struggle with their own emotional concerns, health issues, isolation, and challenges in finding resources long after their own children left home.
Of course, the active involvement of grandparents in their grandchildren’s lives has many valuable aspects as well.
“These grandparents are instilling the traditional cultures rooted in values for respect for family and the customs of northern New Mexico,” says Delfinia Romero, Las Cumbres’ Director of Family Educational Services. “Grandparents are providing safety and security for their grandchildren who might otherwise land in foster care.
Conference workshops and group discussions will focus on self-care, advocacy, and issues grandparents face in legal and educational systems. The keynote speaker will be Gloria Zamora, author of “Sweet Nata: Growing Up in Rural New Mexico.” She will speak about the valuable influence of her parents, grandparents, and other extended family members when she was growing up in Mora and Corrales, New Mexico.
For more information on the Otra Vez conference and to register, call 505-753-4123, or register online: www.lascumbres-nm.org.