by Kaitlin Jackson
SPECIAL TO CATHOLIC CHARITIES from YMCA of the Twin Tiers
Teaming up to help relative caregivers, the Olean and Wellsville YMCAs and Catholic Charities of Buffalo are proud to announce their strategic partnership to help provide further support to grandparents, relatives and friends who are raising and caring for children in Cattaraugus County and expand services to Allegany County.
The collaboration expands the reach and services of Catholic Charities’ Kinship Caregiver Program, which has been supporting Cattaraugus County families with relatives raising children with increased emphasis on the generational gap, for 12 years.
Through the partnership, the Kinship Caregiver Program will hold monthly meetings and activities at both the Olean and Wellsville YMCA facilities. The joint program combines support groups and care coordination with YMCA family membership, family events, programs and youth activities.
Barb Sweitzer, CEO, YMCA of the Twin Tiers, shared, “We are thrilled and honored to partner with Catholic Charities of Buffalo to offer support and services to relatives and non-family members raising children. This special population faces several obstacles while coping with a variety of emotional and social concerns. Together we are able to offer them opportunities such as peer support, family activities, and YMCA membership.”
Not unlike the old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” the program is built on the financial support of many including training support from the Brookdale Foundation and funding from the Burt Fund, the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York, and the YMCA Annual Support Campaign to offer YMCA family membership to every family enrolled in the program. Benefits of family membership include free child watch while parent is in the facility, swimming lessons, family events, adult group exercise classes and reduced fees on other programs and services.
“I am so excited about this collaboration and the new and expanded opportunities it offers kinship families,” said Danielle Kielar, Catholic Charities Kinship Caregiver Social Worker. “I have been running the support group part of the program with the help of volunteers for the last eight years. Getting more support for the youth in the kinship families is like a dream come true! They deserve to have fun and enjoy things like swimming, using wellness equipment or ascending the YMCA’s climbing wall.”
The Kinship Caregiver Program will also continue to conduct home visits, referrals and linkages, as well as kinship youth groups at local schools. In addition to financial support, the program reaches out to other community partners to provide content support and information to assist the relatives as parents. The Kinship Caregiver Program continues to be funded through a grant from the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services and with support from Catholic Charities. The Department of Social Services has funded the program since its inception.
Upcoming meetings will be held at 6:00 PM on November 13 and December 11 at the Olean YMCA, 1101 Wayne St., followed by the second Wednesday of every month.
The Allegany County Kinship Caregiver Program will hold its initial meetings at 5:30 PM on November 12 and December 10 at the Wellsville YMCA, 133 Bolivar Road, followed by the third Tuesday of every month.
In addition, a family event will be offered monthly in each county.
For more information about the Kinship Caregiver Program, call 716-372-0101 or go to ccwny.org/kinship.