Meet Shawn and Amanda...

Shawn and Amanda share their story of caring for their nephew, in addition to their own biological children.

Meet Laura...

At the age of 67, Laura Jasso is currently raising her 10-year-old twin granddaughters Eliana and Elysia.

“My daughter, who has mental health issues, is unwilling and unable to care for them,” said Laura. “The girls love their mother very much and I have a hard time understanding why she can’t care for them.”

After becoming a kinship foster care placement, Laura decided that an adoption placement was the better option for the family. As a member of K.A.R.E. in Pima County, she is dedicated to educating similar kinship families through her own personal struggles and understandings.Laura has been faced with many challengesand has found a way to cope through helping others overcome their own obstacles.

“I am very angry with her [daughter] but turn that anger into positive things.”

Laura’s passion for policy and legislature has allowed her to team up with a social policy agency, Children’s Action Alliance, in Arizona to form a group known as The Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors. As a co-chair, she assists other families in locating valuable services as a way to give back for the support she once received.

“I am trying to set an example,” said Laura. “We do many things together and also with school and the community.”

Meet Jessie...

Jessie shares her story of raising her two grandchildren whose mother passed away.

Meet Irene...

Irene Cañez took on the responsibility of nurturing her four grandchildren because of the parents’ drug and alcohol abuse which lead to in domestic violence. Overwhelmed and in need of support, Irene reached out for assistance from the Golden Gate Community Center in 2004.

Shortly after, she assisted Golden Gate in developing the Phoenix KARE (Kinship, Adoption, Resource and Education) program. With Irene’s support, the KARE program grew from a total of five members that attended a monthly support group to a total of 40-50 caregivers who now attend regularly. The program has been a way for grandparents to offer support to one another, share their experiences and to let other families know that they are not alone.

“I think the program gives back. It enables older families to mentor new families who come in,” said Irene in an interview with Latino Perspectives Magazine. “The grown kids mentor the new kids. It really does make a difference.”

She is currently the President of the KARE grandparent Advisory Board, co-facilitates Kinship trainings and is a mentor to many of our kinship caregivers. She is also an advisory board member of the Central AZ Kinship Coalition and has recently become a member of the KARE statewide ambassadors.

Among her successes, Irene was influential in the organization of the 2007 statewide Grandfamilies Rally in which legislation was passed to provide grandparent caregivers with extra financial assistance to care for the children.

As a resident of Maryvale for more than 50 years she is also very involved in revitalization projects happening in the community. In 2008, she assisted Golden Gate in developing the Community Revitalization program and is presently the President of the Golden Gate Neighbor’s United Association.

As her grandchildren grow up and leave home, Irene is grateful and still just as passionate about spreading the word.

“Oh my God, it’s wonderful what they say now,” she told Latino Perspectives. “They come back and tell me, ‘You’re my mom. You raised me.’ I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Meet Christina...

Christina shares her personal story of caring for her two nephews who were removed from their home due to neglect due to substance abuse.

Meet Jose and Amy…

Jose and Amy Gatica are raising their grandchildren, from age 3 to 14. Amy says, “When they came, it was hard because I didn’t have any help. Jose was in the hospital when the state called to let us know they were bringing the children to us.”

Amy and Jose have been members of the KARE support group at Golden Gate Community Center since its inception. They are on the Grandparents Disneyland Dream Team, are members of the Grandparent Advisory Board and have advocated at the state capitol for kinship legislation. KARE Centers across Arizona provide a myriad of services to meet the unique needs of relatives raising their family members including legal resources, information, education and resource referrals, family outings, food boxes, and support groups and activities. Relative caregivers frequently report that KARE services are the principal reason they are able to provide informal kinship placements. “I want to help my grandchildren,” said Amy. “And the KARE Center helps me help them.”

 

A letter written in the words of a KARE kinship caregiver:

“In January of 2009 I went to my first KARE support group meeting at Golden Gate Community Center. By the end of the meeting I felt relieved and weight was taken off of my shoulders because I knew I didn’t have to go on this journey alone.

As a grandmother, I thought I could handle raising my grandkids on my own. I was wrong. Not only was I working, but I had to deal with CPS, case managers, family counseling and all of the other entities that were required of me to care for my grandchildren that were in CPS custody.

Some of the ways KARE Program has helped me is to know I am not alone and that it was ok to ask for help. I felt safe with the help from KARE and so did my children. It has provided me with the support I need… You can tell your stories and there is no judgment from anyone who participates... I have had the opportunity to grow as a person while participating in this program. It has given me the confidence I needed to believe in myself. The children have grown, too, to know a sense of community through the bonds that they have formed with the other kids in situations like them. We look forward to the meetings, the respite events, the trainings and any other opportunities offered through KARE... I know that I am strong enough now to help out new members that come in as well. I cannot express just how much KARE has meant to me and if this letter helps just one grandparent, everything I have gone through was worth it.”

Sincerely,
Kathy*
*name has been changed to protect confidentiality

Meet Rosa...

Rosa shares her story of raising her granddaughter whose father is incarcerated.

 

Meet Gayle...

A poem by Gayle Wheeler, KARE participant:

She entered a room full of people
Each one with a story to share
Of children with sorrows and victories
Each trusting in us for their care.
Each parent had something to offer
Not one had regret in their choice
They simply had love for their family
And here they could give that love voice.
Some share in their victories of good days
And others in worry and tears
While others give love and embraces
Who’ve been through the trials and the fears.
Regardless the burdens we carry
We all come together each week
And lovingly share with each other
To find the support that we seek.

Meet Brenda...

Brenda shares her story of adopting her two grandsons.