Catholic Charities to Launch Relatives as Parents Program

Catholic Charities West Virginia (CCWVa) is expanding its case management services in Wheeling to offer a new Relatives as Parents (RAP) program. The program launches in this month.

“Our goal is to provide relevant information to people who find themselves providing for children whose parents are unable to care for them,” said Diana Bell, CCWVa Northern Region Case Management supervisor. “This program will allow for information sharing, support and valuable resources to be given to relatives and others who find themselves in the position of parent.”

The RAP program will provide developmental, behavioral, and health care supports and interventions to high-risk children and families in Ohio County. “This new program is an extension of our comprehensive case management program, which focuses on setting the foundation for families to gain healthy and stable lives by setting goals and identifying ways to overcome barriers,” said Beth Collins, CCWVa Northern Region director.

Relative or kinship caregiving is the full-time nurturing and protection of another family member’s child. While many caregivers are grandparents, individuals such as aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, family friends and others may share their homes with children who are temporarily or permanently separated from their parents.

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Thousands of children in West Virginia are currently being raised by relatives other than their biological parents. Census data shows that this number is on the rise, and many cases are linked to drug addiction. “The legal, financial, emotional and physical challenges of kinship care can be overwhelming for family members,” said Collins. “Our RAP program helps to meet these needs for both caregivers and the children they are raising.”

The program is funded by the James B. Chambers Memorial Foundation and the Robinson Parlin Trust Fund.

In 2019, the program will aim to serve 10 families with 30 individuals over 11 monthly sessions. Sessions will allow caregivers to work with a CCWVa case manager to help manage their stress and financial challenges. Educational presentations will be provided covering topics such as school enrollment, parenting skills, food and nutrition, child safety, self-care, government benefits and financial literacy. Children will enjoy interactive child care, help with homework and an art activity correlating with the theme for each month.

A meal will also be provided, and transportation is available. There are no income guidelines for the program, which will begin on Feb. 12.

“This program creates a space for caregivers to communicate with and support one another, sharing their struggles and receiving validation and advice from others who have similar experiences,” said Collins.

Additional families are still being accepted to the program. To learn more, families can contact Diana Bell at 304-639-0086 or