Healthy Grandfamilies Program aids West Virginians, especially during pandemic

West Virginia ranks second in the nation for grandparents raising grandchildren. These children face higher rates of emotional, behavioral and academic problems, while their grandparents contend with challenges related to generational gaps. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these issues. The Healthy Grandfamilies Program conducted by Extension personnel with West Virginia University has taken on new importance during the pandemic. This program provides academic mentors to students living with their grandparents. When virtual schooling wascommonplace due to COVID-19restrictions, the grandfamilies mentors filled an important gap in helping youth complete their schoolwork. Some grandparents struggle to provide assistance with technology, for instance. Not only did their grandchildren get the help they needed, a burden also was lifted from the grandparents’ shoulders and relieved stress. Students said the mentors helped improve their academic skills. Participants also reported that the mentors helped them feel less isolated at a time when staying home was necessary for health reasons.

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