The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

December 11, 2011

Families receive help as they raise other people’s children

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — As a great-grandmother kept a close eye on her newly minted family,Kinship workers were preparing dozens of families for a special Christmas evening.

Esther Baird of Geneva recently took in her three great-grandchildren and is getting used to being a mother – again.

“I think it is wonderful,” Baird said of the Ashtabula County Children Services Kinship program that works to support families who are caring for children.

The program started almost three years ago with a federal grant designed to build a self-supporting permanent program for families dealing caring for relatives’, or close friends’, children, said Kathryn Whittington, community services coordinator for ACCS.

“If we didn’t have this happening, I don’t know what I’d do,” said Melissa Baldwin of Hartsgrove Township, who has custody of her two grandsons. She said the organization helped her family through the paperwork maze that begins when the custody process begins and seems to go on forever.

“I’m here almost every month,” Baldwin said.

Jasmine Hopson, a part time Kinship case worker, and Danielle Root, a newly hired full-time Kinship case worker, work with 400 families.

She said the organization meets from 5:30 to 7 p.m. the first Monday of every month at ACCS offices at the Donahoe Center.

Hopson said a speaker is a part of the monthly program so families can receive information from a variety of professionals relating to the care of children.

“Our next meeting will be a magistrate,” Hopson said.

Hopson said there are also some programs that provide limited financial help for families stepping into the breach to care for children. She said it is sometimes difficult for grandparents with added financial burdens and the evaluation of their own parenting skills.

“A lot of them (grandparents) seem very emotional because they feel like the haven’t done a good job (with their own children),” Hopson said.

While the kids do a craft or activity the caregivers meet in a separate room. She said there are small groups where information, and feelings, are shared.

“We have a directory so they have each other’s phone numbers,” Hopson said of relationships that continue outside the monthly meetings.

Tammy Nelson, also a grandmother, who is raising a six- year-old boy, said the organization helps advocate for her.

“That’s really huge. I think everybody finds out information from each other,” she said.

The Kinship program also supports people who have gained custody of children to whom they are not biologically related.

Chris Shaffer of Ashtabula said Kinship has been very helpful. He said they adopted a child they knew, but was not biologically related.

 “We used to babysit (the boy),” Shaffer said.

“It’s been great. He fits right in with the family,” he said.

Herb Witt, president of the Kinship program, became involved two years ago when his sister died and Dakota Witt, then 5, became a part of the family.

“I had all this paper work,” he said of the first of many challenges in dealing with different aspects of the social service system.

“We found all the things they (Kinship) can come up with to help you,” Witt said.

Whittington said the grant will end in 2012, a seven-county cooperative venture, but the group will continue.

“The group is becoming self-sufficient through fundraisers,” she said.

Text Only
Local News
Ashtabula County Alive
July 4 Celebrations 2014
Summer off to Big Start
Ashtabula County Flag Day 2014
Northeast Ohio Soap Box Derby 2014
Tour de State Line and Boating Season
Ashtabula County Memorial Day 2014
Sam Magill Sr. Memorial
Armed Forces Echo Taps 2014
Lakeside Loop Color Run
Keeping Ashtabula County Clean and Healthy
Canoe Race and Ashtabula Easter Events
The Taping of the Teacher: A sticky Sitation
18th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Geneva State Park
House Ads
AP Video
NDN Video
Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent