CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- If you are raising a child and find yourself asking, “where’s my village?” Chesterfield County is hoping to help.
In a bid to aid often unsung heroes, family members raising a child who is not their birth child, the county hosted a Kinship Fair on Wednesday.
The Kinship Fair, held at the Chesterfield Central Library, served as a comprehensive resource for families where children are being raised by relatives who are not their parents. County officials note that family units come in all forms.
The event was a one-stop-shop for attendees to engage with representatives from an array of services, ranging from local county services to federal agencies. Constituent services from Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan's office, the Department on Aging, the Virginia Poverty Law Center, and Chesterfield County Schools were among the organizations present.
Kinship families had the opportunity to gain valuable insights and information from a variety of service providers, including Social Services offering financial assistance and childcare support, Chesterfield County Public Schools, Mental Health Support Services, Parks and Recreation, Juvenile Justice, Aging and Disability Services, and more. Representatives from each division were on hand throughout the event to address attendees' questions and concerns.
Organizers of the Kinship Fair emphasized the critical role senior citizens play within families and communities.
"Older adults in Chesterfield give back so much to their community,” said Alexa van Aartrijk of Chesterfield County. “I really hope everyone is recognizing that benefit and make sure that they, you know, cherish an old person because they're so vital to our communities."
The County's Aging and Disability Resources office is hoping to establish a workgroup aimed at finding innovative ways to address the unique needs of kinship families and connecting them to available services.
"Kinship families are very common in Chesterfield. Mostly grandparents raising grandkids, but sometimes it's aunts and uncles or others who gain custody of a child and don't really know where to go from there. They don't know what tools they should utilize, what resources are available to them, or what benefits they're eligible for, such as childcare, so they feel really lost," noted van Aartrijk.
If you missed the Kinship Fair but find yourself in the position of caring for a child and need help locating resources and services, Chesterfield County has made it easy. You can access a comprehensive kinship resource guide by clicking here.
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