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August 9, 2013
Faculty and Extension team created wide array of resources, online and off, to link grandparents with support services throughout Colorado.
As a land-grant university, researchers and educators at Colorado State University are committed to extending their knowledge and expertise to their communities in the form of service and outreach. For CSU researchers, this means trying to find innovative ways to help meet the needs of grandparents raising grandchildren throughout Colorado.
Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Christine Fruhauf, whose research focuses on issues of aging, partnered with Kim Bundy-Fazioli in CSU's School of Social Work and Larimer County Extension Agent Jacque Miller to create resources to assist the growing community of grandparents who have grandchildren under the age of 18 living with them.
As part of that effort, in 2008, Fruhauf, Bundy-Fazioli, and Miller received grant money through CSU Extension to create and produce an educational website to provide informational resources for grandparents raising grandchildren in the state. The site, www.ext.colostate.edu/grg, has educational videos, news, tools, support groups, information, and other resources to help grandparents raising grandchildren solve problems and improve their quality of life.
The resources provided for grandparents raising grandchildren aren't merely confined to the Internet. In 2007, through the leadership of Miller and the Extension office in Larimer County, the Larimer County Alliance for Grandfamilies was created, forming a coalition of grandparents, caregivers, professionals, and other community members to support the health and well-being of grandfamilies through community education, development of support systems, and advocacy for change.
After the first year, Fruhauf, Bundy-Fazioli, and Miller evaluated the progress that the Larimer County Alliance for Grandfamilies had made.
"We found that we were making steps toward some of our goals and objectives that we had outlined in that year but there was more work that could be done to assist the community of grandparents raising grandchildren," Fruhauf said.
Publishing a study on both the model and approach that was taken to design the LCAG and the results they found, Fruhauf, Bundy-Fazioli, and Miller received the 2013 Brabazon Award for Evaluation Research from Generations United, a nonprofit focusing on intergenerational relationships including grandparents raising grandchildren. Fruhauf and Miller attended the Generations United Conferencein Washington D.C. where they received the award on August 1.
Fruhauf said their biggest achievement is to link grandparents with information and act as an alliance that helps link network service providers with one another. She added that the national recognition for the paper will help encourage further evaluation work in the field of intergenerational relationships.
"I'm hoping that through our example and some of the work that we've done, more agencies will continue to do evaluation, and they'll then be able to improve their programs and services to better meet the needs of grandfamilies," Fruhauf said.
This dedication to outreach is essential to CSU's land-grant mission. Attending Ohio State and Virginia Tech, both land-grant institutions, and involved with 4-H as a child, Fruhauf fully supports CSU's mission. A major part of that mission is carried out by Colorado State University Extension, a division of the Office of Engagement. Extension is the arm of the university outside the main campus whose goal is to disseminate the knowledge gained at the university through agents in the community who work with Colorado citizens.
Fruhauf said Extension is another way of taking the research that happens on any campus and applying it to the families and individuals in the community. "I really value applied research and applied activities at the university level. I believe we should be doing science with applications to help and support the well-being of all families, particularly older adults and their families," said Fruhauf, who is also responsible for leading Extension within her Department.
Contact: Gretchen Gerding