Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Conference

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- Dozens of grandparents were in Wilkes-Barre on Friday for a Grandparents Raising Grandchildren conference.

Organizers say this year's conference had a record number of participants.

A billboard on one of the busiest roads in Luzerne County reminds people of the growing number of grandparents caring for their grandchildren.

"Today, we're just here advocating for the rights of grandparents to make sure that this growing population gets a voice. it has a voice and gets to be heard," said Brenda Saba, a grandparent raising a grandchild.

The county's inter-generational coalition hosted its 12th annual Grandparents Raising Grandparents conference at Genetti's in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

Brenda Saba cares for her 11-year-old grandson.

She legally adopted him four years ago and has become an advocate for other grandparents who've done the same.

"I'm no longer a grandparent. I'm a parent. I'm back to being a parent. I know I don't look like a grandparent, but I am. Our life has completely changed. There is no more thoughts of retiring to South Carolina," Saba said.

Organizers say this year's conference had the most participants with more than 200 grandparents and vendors.

"Certainly, the growth of grandparents raising grandchildren is very, very, strong in this region. It's strong in this state, it's strong in the nation. There are about two and a half million youngsters being directly raised by grandparents," said Howard Grossman, NEPA Intergenerational Coalition chair.

The conference is meant to be a place for grandparents to ask questions and learn more about services available to them.

A representative from the state's department of aging attended.

"More importantly, for us to learn and to listen to them in terms of what their needs are, what the gaps in services are, what support that they need because if we can better support grandparents, then our children will be better served as well and they can thrive in the communities they're being raised in," said Pennsylvania Department of Aging secretary Teresa Osborne.

The organizers of the conference in Wilkes-Barre also provided information to the grandparents about new state laws to help them get more assistance raising their grand kids and guardianship.

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