Mayor Cory A. Booker, New Jersey State Salvation Army Commander Major Donald E. Berry and Newark Area Salvation Army Human Services Director Major Margaret Morris and other Newark dignitaries gathered today with grandparents who are raising their grandchildren at a ceremony to open the Essex County Grand Family Center, located at 699-711 Springfield Avenue in Newark.

This will be the nation’s second and the state’s first such resource center which will provide information and support for grandparents who are raising grandchildren. The Center is a partnership between the City of Newark, Essex County, and the Salvation Army, and is partially underwritten by a grant from the Nicholson Foundation, a philanthropic organization with a long history of supporting Newark.

“There are more than 4,000 households in Newark that are headed by grandparents, and these grandfamilies need our support. Raising children is difficult at any age – it is even more difficult for grandparents, advancing in age, to take up the full-time duties of child-raising a second time,” Mayor Booker said. “We have already opened Family Success Centers in Newark to support our parents and caregivers. This Grand Family Center will provide in one place the resources, services, and support that these larger families need to succeed and flourish.”

According to U.S. Census 2000 data, there are approximately 10,000 elderly Essex County residents are responsible for raising grandchildren for various reasons, including parental drug abuse, incarceration and abandonment. The new Grand Family Center in Newark will house a wide range of services to make it easier for grandparents to get information, support and services they need to better care for their grandchildren. They will have access to Social Security, disability, legal consultation, Medicare and Medicaid information and County welfare programs, including legal guardian information, child care, after school programs and homework assistance, computer lab, hot meals, recreation activities and support groups.
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