Program aims to provide support to grandparents raising their grandchildren

PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- For most grandparents, the grandkids are brought over for a few hours to visit and then are picked up and taken back home.

Dozens of people listen to a presentation during a 'Healthy Grandfamilies' meeting in Putnam County, West Virginia.

For other grandparents, home for their grandkids is with them. A large number of grandparents are now stepping into a parental role, helping raise their grandchildren.

Officials say a number of different things is contributing to parents not being in the picture for children, including the opioid epidemic.

That's why school leaders in Putnam County are offering a program to grandparents helping raise their grandchildren. The program is called 'Healthy GRANDfamilies.'

Friday was their first meeting of the new school year.

Dozens of people showed up for the meeting, including Sharon Schmidt, who is helping raise her 11-year-old grandson.

"No one is alone in this," Schmidt said. "It's a large number of grandparents raising their grandchildren. It's a good place to meet other grandparents that are going through what we all are going through."

Schmidt says stepping into the parental role again is challenging since so many years separate her and her grandson.

"You sort of feel isolated because grandparents are a lot older and you have already raised a family," Schmidt said. "Things have changed since when you went through it the first time and it's good to know that there are others out there and we can all work on this together."

According to officials, West Virginia is one of the highest-ranking states when it comes to grandparents stepping in to help raise their grandchildren.

This is now the second year for the program in the school system. It is meant to offer resources to grandparents to help bridge the generational gap and to help them address issues that children are facing today.

The group will meet on the second Friday of each month. If you are interested in joining, you can get in touch with your student's guidance counselor to learn more information.