The alarm goes off at 6am. Kamari and Kaniya are excited for another day of second grade, while Kesha and Karissa prepare for kindergarten. Jonathan is heading to another day of 11th grade. Even 10-month-old Kelvin doesn’t want to miss out as he watches everyone wash up, eat breakfast, grab their backpacks and head out the door for the bus by 7:15.
This is a typical morning for Toshia, the mom of the house. What’s less typical is that of all these children, only Jonathan is her son; Kamari, Kaniya, Kesha, Karissa and Kelvin are her grandchildren. After learning her daughter was leaving the children in dangerous situations, Toshia decided she needed to parent a second time around.
“I thought about how I would feel living my life while my grandchildren, who I love dearly, were in foster care,” she recalls. “I had to know they were okay. My daughter wasn’t going to do it, so it was up to me.”
Toshia is not alone: Millions of children across the United States live with grandparents because their parents are unable to care for them. Finding resources to afford the necessities and navigating today’s education and healthcare systems can be overwhelming, leaving grandparents, like Toshia, feeling stuck.
Toshia’s journey wasn’t easy but she did it with one set of twins on her hips, another set lagging behind and her grandson in a stroller. She sought comfort from Skip Generations, a program of the Hillside Family Resource Center. The program is made up of grandparents like Toshia, and exists to empower them to advocate for their grandchildren, access essential services and give children every opportunity to achieve their full potential.
Linda James, Parent Educator and caregiver to her two grandchildren, lends her firsthand experience to the program. Linda says, “I have been there. I understand what they are facing. I can tell them what helped me.” She has always believed that her purpose in life is to help others and she does that every day by being a mentor and, most importantly, a friend and listening ear.
The powerful combination of Toshia’s selflessness, the unparalleled love of a family and the Skip Generations program resources are helping Kamari, Kaniya, Kesha, Karissa and Kelvin stay on a path to lifelong security.