The Relatives As Parents Program (RAPP) was designed to encourage and promote the creation of services for grandparents and other relatives who have taken on the responsibility of surrogate parenting due to the absence of the biological parents. There are numerous reasons why grandparents and other relative caregivers are being called upon to rear children. But generally, they have one common thread: they are stepping in due to a family crisis. Relative caregivers report that they are raising children for many reasons, such as:
RAPP provides accessible support groups and other supportive services to relative caregivers and the children in their care. RAPP focuses on the needs of a growing number of families with youth being parented by kinship caregivers, many of which are grandparents. The primary goal of the mutual support groups, or “Coffee and Conversation”, is to help the participants find an environment that provides comfort and safety for the expression of their successes and challenges as caregivers of relative children. The secondary goal is to assist caregivers to learn from and help each other (i.e. peer mentoring, informal care giving among families, etc.).
The outcomes of the support groups are to assist kinship caregivers in locating resources in the community to address financial, mental health, and legal issues; improve family relationships through access to educational resources and trainings; and for kinship caregivers to find comfort in expressing their successes and challenges in a safe and supportive environment. Twice a year the support groups will join together for special events: the winter holiday party and summer picnic. The purpose of these events is to provide encouragement and fun for kinship care families.
Inter-generational activities bring together individuals of different ages as partners to explore, study, and work towards a shared goal. These activities foster cooperation and promote interaction among generations including youth and older adults. RAPP Inter-generational activities are designed to improve family relationships, teamwork and communication. Some examples of previous RAPP Inter-generational programs are:
The formal term for getting a break is respite. Many relative caregivers seek respite, but are unable to get it due to financial limitations and family stressors. RAPP provides respite to relative caregivers through a variety of events. Relative caregivers drop off the children who take part in educational and cooperative activities, while the adults take a break from the daily demands of parenting. Time away gives them a more balanced perspective regarding the family’s strengths and challenges.