‘Relative caregivers raising keiki’ one-day workshop tomorrow

Today in Hawai‘i there are over 16,000 relative caregivers rearing children, many of whom are grandparents, aunties, uncles, neighbors and  foster parents serving as primary caregivers for children.

Kaui Castillo, director of Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center, and Kealoha Takahashi, Director of Aging and Elderly Affairs, are organizing a free conference, “Relative caregivers raising keiki,” from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Kaua’i Hilton Hotel. Information on community resources will be provided.

“This isn’t something you plan for when you’re planning your retirement and it often comes at a time when these caregivers may be needing help themselves,” states a recent press release.

Schools report growing numbers of families that need support services, especially families who are often without any. Families who have received these services say “we had no idea where to get help for our three grandchildren from legal paperwork, school supplies and medical coverage, but thankfully we found help and information at the Support Group meeting.”

Kealoha Takahashi, executive on aging, Agency on Elderly Affairs, says “one of our goals is to support families caring for their loved ones, this includes our keiki. We hope this conference provides a first step in linking families with services and support that can help them in their situation. Island-wide support group meetings, counseling services, are all available to our ‘ohana caregivers.”

 Child and Family Service through their Post Permanency Program and a partnerships with Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center and Agency on Elderly Affairs have offered support services to families on Kaua‘i for the past six years. Support groups meetings are held monthly at family centers: Nana’s House in Waimea, Hale Hoomalu in Kapa‘a and Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center in Lihu‘e.

Besides their monthly meetings, families are offered respite services, personal counseling and personal case management support. Due to recent cutbacks in state funding many of these services will be limited or no longer available come 2009.

The upcoming conference, which is free to all caregivers raising keiki, will kick off with key guest speaker Oswald Stender. Former trustee with the Bishop Estate and today a trustee-at-large with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Stender was raised by his tutu kane and knows first hand. His story will encourage ‘ohana caregivers and professionals attending. He will also share about the recent passage of Senate Bill 2730 (companion HB 2707) relating to child protection that has now become law.

The afternoon speaker will feature Kaua‘i native Mervlyn Kitashima speaking on “No more children at risk.” A resource fair of local service providers will be held on site throughout the conference to allow attendees to ask questions and connect with needed services that can potentially help them in their role.

Professionals who are interested are also invited to attend for fee of $15 per person, which includes lunch and conference. For more information or to register, contact Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center at 245-1873.

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