TLC launching program to help those raising grandchildren or great-grandchildren

Published 8:08 am Friday, May 13, 2016

In answer to a need that is arising in the community, the TLC Community Center is launching a new program designed to help residents who find themselves raising their grandchildren or even great-grandchildren.
Angie Odom, founder and director of the TLC Community Center, said she is seeing more and more people coming to her center for help as they raise their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“One lady in her 70s has a 4-year-old great-grandchild she is already caring for and she is getting ready to have a newborn great-grandchild she will be taking care of too,” Odom said.
Seeing this growing need, Odom said she felt God was leading her to develop a program to help the specific needs of those individuals.
The TLC Center already has a parenting program where clients take part in parenting classes and are able to get items they need for their children such as food and diapers through the program. But the needs of the older generation who once again find themselves as parents are completely different from the Center’s normal clients, Odom said.
“They’ve already raised kids,” Odom said. “They already know how to make a bottle and change a diaper. They need a program that helps meet their needs.”
The Center will soon be launching the “Grandparents Matter Support Group” in an effort to help those individuals.
In addition to helping these caregivers meet the physical needs of the children —such as clothing and food — the program will also provide the grandparents and great-grandparents with support and advice on some of the issues in caring children they that may not have faced when they were raising their own.
One of those issues, Odom said, is drug use.
Over the last few years, a lot of attention has been focused on an emerging crisis of children who are being born addicted to drugs. The medical name for the condition is Neo-Natal Abstinence Syndrome, or more commonly known as NAS. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, the Northeast Tennessee region of the state has the highest number of babies who are born detoxing from drugs — both the illegal variety as well as prescription medication such as opioid painkillers.
“Every grandparent that is signed up with our program right now is raising an NAS baby or NAS children,” Odom said.
Some of those being helped by the Center also have what Odom called a “knowledge gap” about programs and services designed to help them that they may not be aware of because they didn’t exist when these clients were raising their own children.
Many of these grandparents and great-grandparents will need additional guidance on getting these children the care that they need to insure that they continue to grow and develop as they should.
“A lot of them didn’t know anything about Tennessee Early Intervention System,” Odom said. TEIS is a service available to children in the state of Tennessee from birth to the age of 2 that will provide them assessments of the child’s development and make recommendations for any therapies the child may need to get them up to speed.
The program will also allow those caring for grandchildren or great-grandchildren to spend time with others who have found themselves in the same situation. This will allow them build a support network to help cope with the stress they may feel from their circumstances.
“We hope it is going to open up some doors and windows to help these people,” Odom said.
The Grandparents Matter Support Group program is still in the early stages at this time, Odom said. Those who are caring for a grandchild or great-grandchild can contact the Center and sign up now and immediately begin receiving support supplies. The support group portion of the program will begin in August once the Center’s Summer Food Program concludes.
Anyone who wants to sign up for the program or has questions about what type of services the TLC Community Center offers can call Angie Odom at 423-895-8601.

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