Oklahoma City --- Grandparents and other relatives facing the challenges of caring for a second family can receive some needed assistance during the seventh annual “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Conference” scheduled Sept. 18-19 in the conference center of INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center, located at 3300 N.W. Expressway in Oklahoma City.
Ted Bowman, nationally recognized counselor and speaker from the University of Minnesota, will deliver the keynote address. He will discuss what happens within families who are forced to change course when “grandfamilies” are formed. His topic is “Facing Loss of Dreams and Dreaming New Dreams.”
The conference focuses on issues facing grandparents raising their grandchildren including such topics as financial stress, discipline and support services, plus substance abuse, legal and school issues and dealing with the state service delivery system.
A special evening session on Sept. 18 will allow attendees to share their concerns and issues with the people who can do something about them. The “There Ought to be a Law or a Program” session will be hosted by the Department of Human Services Aging Services Division and the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council.
It begins at 6 p.m. in the conference center auditorium. State officials from agencies serving grandparents and children and state legislators and other officials have been invited.
A fair featuring information from more than 20 services and programs will be open before the conference begins each day and at noon. Program representatives will be on hand to provide one-on-one assistance.
Mental health counselors will be available during the first day to conduct small group counseling sessions for willing participants. This year, a health fair has been added to allow grandparents to receive basis health care screening free of charge.
Special features also include a half-day workshop on navigating the legal system. Always a topic of concern to grandfamilies, the session will be lead by Sandy Ingraham, MSW, JD, who has worked in both children’s and senior advocacy areas for many years.
Sponsors of the conference, one of the first of its kind in the nation, include OKDHS, Divisions of Aging, Children and Family Services, and Family Support Services; Oklahoma State Council on Aging; INTEGRIS Third Age Life Center; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council; the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; the Oklahoma City Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs and AARP.
Registration is $20 and includes lunch on both days. For a registration form or information regarding the conference, please call the Oklahoma Area wide Services Information System (OASIS) at 1-800-426-2747.
Financial assistance is available for qualifying grandparents and daycare is being offered free of charge for children and adults, but must be arranged prior to the conference. To apply for financial assistance and/or daycare, please call the Aging Services Division at 405-522-3073.