In collaboration with the Rhode Island Partnership for Family Connections, a group of women called the Grand Divas run the Kinship Care Helpline and Kinship Care Resource Navigator website.
The Grand Divas are a group of “mature” female caretakers who are raising young family members who are not their birth children. The group of kinship caregivers first came together in 2006, with the encouragement and direction of Ileana Valentin-Lopez, a clinical social worker on the Family Strengthening Team at Casey Family Services. Over the past four years, the Divas Group has grown to seventeen members of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Each year, the Divas meet for two modules of eight weeks each.
Their meetings begin with a Yoga activity and cover a multitude of topics from child behavior management to financial planning and healthy cooking. Equally important, the group has provided critical support for each other drawing on their years of experience in child rearing and their commitment to each other. Their friendships quickly formed from their initial meeting because of the similar challenges they face as kinship care providers.
While still supporting each other, the Divas have evolved to a collective force of knowledge and experience which has extended their expertise to providing testimony in Washington, DC on behalf of the Fostering Connections Legislation. In addition, the Divas have played a major role in working towards expanding the rights and services for parents returning to their communities from incarceration.
As the Divas continue to support each other, they are also making themselves available to individuals and organizations interested in starting similar support groups across the State of Rhode Island. They respond to calls directly on the Kinship Care Helpline and have developed a website of resources for kinship caregivers.
Support from someone who has been there is just a phone call away!