Kids Matter Inc. offers comprehensive wrap-around services specially designed to help grand families impacted by trauma

April 19, 2018

By Generations United

Research shows that many practitioners working with grand families recommend a multi-modal approach that includes individual counseling for the grandparent and grandchild, as well as family therapy. This type of approach should include a component that connects grand families to community services, public benefits and legal assistance. Kids Matter Inc., in Milwaukee, WI, offers this comprehensive approach by engaging professionals with expertise in the unique challenges and strengths of kinship families to conduct trauma assessments and referrals, provide comprehensive, supportive mental health and legal services, and help families navigate the complex web of available services and benefits.

Kids Matter Inc.: Fostering healing and grand family connections

The last seven years held many uncertainties for Paula* and her three grandchildren Alexis (7), Kamaya (10) and Christopher (13). Paula began raising the children on and off after learning there was domestic violence in the grandchildren’s home. The father of Alexis and Kamaya physically abused their mother, Sarah. To add to that, Sarah was battling a heroin addiction.

Child Protective Services( CPS) got involved, but they closed the case since Paula was caring for her grandchildren in a family- arranged plan. The single grandmother was left to care for highly traumatized children with little support and without legal custody of the children. Over the years, Sarah would make efforts to get clean by participating in a medication-assisted treatment program, but she struggled and relapsed often.

In 2016, after several months of Sarah staying clean, her oldest son, Christopher, found his mom passed out in the bathroom, overdosed on heroin. He called the paramedics who revived her, but addiction pulled Sarah back to using regularly. Paula stepped in again to raise the children.

As the children got older, Paula struggled to manage their increasing behavioral issues,which resulted from the trauma they experienced at home. Paula met with Christopher’s teachers, seeking help to manage his behavior, and told them about her grandchildren’s situation. The teachers brought in a social worker who encouraged Paula to reach out to Kids Matter Inc., a child advocacy agency in their hometown of Milwaukee,WI.

With help from Kids Matter Inc., things began to change for Paula and her grandkids.

“Kids Matter Inc., helps kids resolve behavioral and emotional difficulties resulting from complex trauma experiences and teaches caregivers how to parent,” explained Jennifer Hastings, who manages Kids Matter Inc.’s Foster Healing and Family Connections programs.

Kids Matter Inc., helped get medical insurance, school supplies and food assistance for the kids, critical resources to Paula,who had to cut her work hours by half after taking on her grandchildren.

The agency also helped Paula get legal guardianship of the children and worked with Sarah, who agreed to the arrangement. As legal guardian of the children, Paula was eligible for financial help with Alexis, who was born premature, legally blind and with some cognitive deficits.

Kids Matter Inc., helped her secure Supplemental Security Income (SSI) support to help with Alexis’s care.

The family is in a much better place now, but they continue to need support. Kids Matter Inc., is there for them when they need it.

Paula appreciates the help.

“I felt powerless and confused, and didn’t know where to start,”Paula explained in a note of thanks to Kids Matter Inc., staff. “Without you, I don’t know that we would have made it through this. We are so grateful for all that you have done.”

Likewise, Kids Matter Inc., values the role of caregivers like Paula in caring for children.

”Relative care givers are the front line in the fight to protect kids from trauma. We need to give them support and resources to help them navigate the challenges of raising children who have experienced trauma,” Jennifer said.

“Putting more money and resources into helping them would save money down the line and help create better child well-being.”

*Names were changed to protect the family’s privacy