COVID-19’s impact on kinship families in Charleston, SC

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Kinship caregiver | Image via @charlestonhalos

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Annie Frasier is a kinship caregiver in Charleston here to share how coronavirus has impacted families like hers.

The coronavirus has been a challenge for all in our community. As a grandmother and the primary caregiver for two of my grandsons, I can say without a doubt that it takes a village to raise our children, and the coronavirus has created a sense of isolation and stress that takes a toll on families.

As primary caregiver to my grandsons, I’m known as a kinship caregiver. Kinship care is when people like myself, a grandparent, relative, or close friend, take in a loved ones children in order to keep them out of foster care. In normal times, you can imagine the adjustment that has to happen. Going from relative independence to becoming a parent again overnight is a lot for anyone. But we do it because we love our families and want our grandchildren to grow up knowing their roots, family history, and have a sense of belonging.

Now imagine having kids that are starting over in the time of the coronavirus. Everything has been changed. For example, I’m 68 and have preexisting conditions that put me in a higher risk category, yet I’m taking care of two teenage grandsons. I don’t want to put them at risk, so I go to the grocery store, wear a mask, and walk the neighborhood to stay healthy. I’m constantly encouraging my grandsons but also teaching them that social distancing is here to stay and we need to be smart about how we react to this virus.

Knowing what I went through when I first took in my grandchildren, to walking through a global pandemic with them, I want to encourage all in our community to reach out for help if you need it. If you are a kinship caregiver, there is a wonderful local nonprofit called HALOS that has virtual support groups, offers assistance, and will always connect you with the right resources. For me, HALOS has been a lifesaver. From Back-to-School events to Christmas gift drives, HALOS has always been there for me and never turned me away.

There are so many grandparents in our community that have no help, and I want to assure them that HALOS is a resource and makes a difference in our community. Many kinship caregivers can barely do for themselves, but we don’t want our grandkids to go into the system, so we take a chance to help them turn their lives around. HALOS is here waiting to help.

For those of you in the community looking to support local nonprofits making a difference, HALOS is a wonderful organization. I advocate for them regularly as they have been a lifeline for me and my boys. It’s hard taking in children, especially when they are older, but I want to say that the community I have made through HALOS has made all the difference. Especially now, during the coronavirus, if you are feeling alone, I encourage you to call HALOS.

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