Grandfamilies Study Commission: Second Meeting - Granite Grok

Grandfamilies Study Commission: Second Meeting

GrandFamilies

Interesting meeting with an interesting mix of people and organizations (see my previous post here for the mandated list).  It was clear that even while I was the appointee from the Department of Education via Commissioner Frank Edelblut, there were three grandparents on the committee.

(Maybe four but I’ll stick with three for now).

Most of the attendees were from social or governmental organizations. Marylou Beaver (Family Assistance Advisory Council) was voted in as Chair. While the first meeting was the Organizational one for the Commission (Chair, Vice, Secretary, who is who and from where from what I gathered), this meeting was an “OK, given a wide range of issues confronting Grandparents raising grandchildren, what should this Commission concentrate on for the final report due September 2020?

A Survey Monkey poll was conducted for the first meeting attendees as to what those should be.  Before THIS meeting, Marylou came in (I had arrived even earlier) and started putting up Flipboard paper with the top concerns and how many people had voted for each topic (numbers were Survey Monkey votes):

  • Availability of services for Grandparents (missed the count)
  • Investigating Federal Funding streams to support Grandfamilies (missed the count)
  • Availability for services for Grandchildren (9)
  • Data – identify needs and collection tools available (8)
  • Guardian Financial Assistance Program (8)
  • Issues facing grandparents prior to and post-adoption (8)
  • Review kinship policies/procedures in our courts (7)
  • Review current DCYF regulatory environment related to relative parenting licensing (7)
  • Housing Issues (3)
  • Healthcare Issues (3)

As I watched her put them up, these thoughts went through my head:

Why is everything about what MORE should Govt be doing? Why not start looking first at how to keep Govt from getting in the way?

So after the introductions were made, I asked those questions (paraphrased – forgot my camera):

I may be the contrarian here but when I look at all of these, it is clear that they are all about Positive Rights [yes, I said that} about what Government should be doing for these folks.  I’m more about Negative Rights – what the Govt SHOULDN’T be doing because being a Grandparent that has gone through the DCYF / Adoption pathway, there are a number of things that Government ends up being a barrier (or barriers) in this issue.

I think I took a few people by surprise. But the CASA person nodded his head in agreement (an organization where volunteers go in as guardian ad litems to represent the best interest of the CHILD first) having seen it up close and personal. A couple of others as well. However, that said,…

The main purpose that Marylou had was to take all of those topics above and boil them down into a workable number of subcommittees going forward to actually write up stuff for that Final Report that should be “actionable” by the end of the Commission time period.  Those in attendance were asked to put a mark on FOUR of the topics.  We then discussed what each topic entailed at the 50K foot level, which topics could / might be related, and then how to end up with a smaller number of subcommittees that would actually be workable.  The result:

  • Availability of services for Grandparents (missed the count)
  • Availability for services for Grandchildren (9)
  • Investigating Federal Funding streams to support Grandfamilies (missed the count)
  • Housing Issues (3)
  • Data – identify needs and collection tools available (8)
  • Guardian Financial Assistance Program (8)
  • Issues facing grandparents prior to and post-adoption (8)
  • Review kinship policies/procedures in our courts (7)
  • Review current DCYF regulatory environment related to relative parenting licensing (7)
  • Healthcare Issues (3)

So, four subcommittees.  Given that the Data one is up in my wheelhouse, I did sign up for that. Originally someone started talking about it being used to identify funding sources for the community resource centers – I pointed out that it should be both more basic and much more broad-spectrum and not serving just one silo. The data really should be more demographically oriented:

  • HOW many Grandparents are there in NH
  • How many Grandparents take care of Grandkids on a more regular basis (than occasional babysitting)?
  • Where are they located around the State?
  • What is the age ranges of both Grandparents and Grandkids (quite the bi-model bell curve I would imagine – and one Commission Grandparent told a couple of anecdotes of 70+’ers taking care of five and less aged kids)

Sidenote: which also brought up a very serious legal issue of having Grandparents having the Right to “pre-decide” who the child should go to, for the best interest of the child, if something happened to them (and many of us agreed that while the Law says back to the parents, that Grandparents may know MUCH better who should follow in their footsteps).

  • What is the income level?
  • Rural versus urban (as much as NH gets “urban”)?
  • What ARE the resources available to them geographically?  On an expertise level?  Do the resources THEMSELVES know all that is out there – a visualization/mapping process would be quite handy but that takes data as well.

Those were just the ones that flashed through my mind and quickly spoke to them – and seemed to convince folks of that.  Data sources would also have to be identified as well as each of the resources and recourse types should come up with their own questions of “WHO / WHAT / WHERE” – that would drive the kind of data needed to be collected. Data should always exist to answer business-oriented questions/needs and be formatted for that.  Data for the sake of data is worthless.  Data needs to be turned into information but without knowing what information is needed, you don’t know what your data needs to be.

I also signed up for the third one that will deal with issues dealing with DCYF and adoption/guardianship having had personal insights as TMEW and I went through that system.

So, we’ll see what’s going to happen.  I’ve asked for minutes from the preceding Commission on this issue and that report.  I’ll bring it back here when I get them.