KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — You’ve raised your kids. Now they have their own children. One night the phone rings. Something has happened. Your grandchildren are placed in your care permanently. The Helping Mamas organization is here for them, too.
Tracy Van De Vate manages the Grandparents as Parents program. At the Community Action Committee’s Office on Aging, she routinely goes through emergency supplies. Things like baby wipes, packing them in a bag along with diapers, soon to be in the hands of grandparents.
Tracy said, “Sometimes in the middle of the night, all of a sudden a grandchild or grandchildren show up at their door and they have very little or nothing to get started.”
That’s where Helping Mamas and its warehouse full of baby supplies comes in.
“Instead of us taking out time, like, ‘oh, where are we gonna get a car seat, how are we gonna get this kind of formula,’ and things like that, Helping Mamas, they already do the work for us and then we can focus on other things to help stabilize the family,” Tracy explained.
Right now, her office is helping 500 clients, but there are more out there who need help.
“In Knoxville,” Tracy said, “the US Census tells us there are approximately 5,000 grandparents raising grandchildren in Knox County, so we sort of feel like we’ve barely touched the surface.”
She says the opioid epidemic is behind the rising numbers, thankful that Helping Mamas opens its arms to grandparents, too.
“Helping Mamas has been a wonderful partnership for us because a lot of times, families come into this situation really unexpectedly, very last minute, sometimes in the middle of the night,” Tracy said.
If you are a grandparent or relative who needs help, call the Grandparents as Parents program at 865-524-2786.