Grandparents on P.E.I. grappling with the financial cost of children in their care will now receive help from the province.
Jacqueline Agnew, who attended the meeting held in Boardroom 3 at the Credit Union Place on Friday morning, says the announcement comes as “a God send.”
“I was in a seniors home and I left and moved to Summerside to take care of my 10-year-old grandchild. Four years ago, officially, he moved in with me,” she said. “I’m 75 in a few days time, and I keep going. He keeps me going.”
Agnew battled to raise her grandson with an old age pension.
“We changed schools when my home in Summerside was broken into three times because of his medication, but I finally got a place where I feel safe and he feels safe. But it was hard having to taxi him around because I don’t have a car.”
A new Grandparents and Care Providers program will help grandparents, like Agnew, or other caregivers, receive $700 per month per child to assist with daily living costs, clothing and transportation.
The program will include dental and drug coverage for the children.
Family and Human Services minister, Tina Mundy said: “When a parent is unable to safely care for a children living with a familiar person is the best for the child and reduces trauma – which is our top priority.”
According to the province, “There are 54 children in P.E.I. living in 47 homes with family members or someone close to them, 39 of those are in grandparent-led home.”
These arrangements help prevent the child from being taken into legal custody and guardianship of the province.
The program costs around $400,000 annually.
“We will survive,” said Agnew. “There are so many people looking after little ones, and today made a big difference in our lives - all I can do is cry.”
One of the program facilitators, Pat Poirier said, “I was totally amazed how these grandparents contributed so much and received so little from society. Society owes them a great debt for what they have done to help.”
From Dec. 1, the program will be available by Contacting Child Protection Services at: 1-800-341-6868.