Nurturing Families: Molly Blank Fund and Project Healthy Grandparents
Since 2020, the Molly Blank Fund has supported Project Healthy Grandparents (PHG) with several multi-year grants totaling $110,000. PHG was founded at Georgia State University in 1995 and is housed within the Byrdine F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions. With a mission to improve the health and well-being of families in which grandparents are raising their grandchildren, PHG provides comprehensive health and support services, such as monthly home visitations by registered nurses and social workers, parenting education classes and support groups, legal service referrals and early intervention services for young children.
Initially started as a pilot project in response to the growing number of grandparent-headed households in the Atlanta community, PHG had focused primarily on grandparent health issues, access to public benefits, support groups and referrals for legal services. But it soon became evident that providing social support, education related to parenting a second time around and resources to strengthen grandparent health and family cohesiveness were needed to alleviate the loneliness and psychological distress that grandparents experience.
“The need for services to support grandparents raising grandchildren has grown significantly since the program’s inception. As a research university-based program, we are always evaluating our program and pivoting to meet the needs of the families we serve,” said Patricia R. Lawrence, PhD, RN, CPNP-AC/PC, director, Project Healthy Grandparents. “Project Healthy Grandparents would not be possible without generous funders like the Molly Blank Fund and our many community partnerships. This support has been instrumental in enabling the program to remain an important lifeline to grandparents for the last 28 years.”
Since its inception, PHG has served more than 3,500 individuals in Georgia’s Fulton and DeKalb counties, including grandparents and grandchildren. PHG’s expanded services now include dental, vision and hearing services for grandparents; tutoring for school-aged grandchildren; programming to connect adolescent grandchildren with mentors, camps and meaningful after-school programs; and family activities that give grandparents reprieve from their day-to-day challenges of raising a family.
PHG also recently created a streamlined process for financially supporting and connecting grandparents to mental health support, which is provided by mental health professionals experienced in the unique challenges faced by grandparents raising grandchildren.
Looking to the future, PHG will continue to evaluate services, solicit feedback and include the voices of grandparents in shaping how the program helps strengthen families in the Atlanta area.