MUM: Terranora grandparent carer Cathy Jamieson
MUM: Terranora grandparent carer Cathy Jamieson SCOTT POWICK

Grand solution for kids cut

AT AN age when most of their contemporaries are enjoying the freedom of being empty nesters, Cathy and Bruce Jamieson are raising a young family.

The Terranora couple, aged in their mid 60s, successfully fought for the custody of four of their grandchildren due to their daughter’s drug, alcohol and domestic violence issues.

Now they have kids aged 13 to 21 who call them mum and dad, two of whom still live at home.

Cathy says it has been a tough, but rewarding journey.

They get government support but it’s still a financial stretch paying for the children’s education and extra-curricular activities.

That’s why the region’s only financial support program for grand-carers has been so welcome. But now it is at risk due to a funding shortfall.

For over eight years the Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF) has attracted funding averaging $35,000 each year to support the region’s grandparents who are the primary carers of their grandchildren with 175 to 250 vouchers distributed in the Tweed each year.

This annual funding is sourced via the NRCF’s partnership with the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, whereby an eligible grand-carer receives a $50 Target voucher for each grandchild in their care.

The voucher is designed to contribute towards the back-to-school costs for each of the children.

This year, the grant from FRRR to the NRCF has been reduced to just $20,000 or just 400 vouchers.

The funding shortfall is a double-blow for the NRCF who have over 550 eligible grand-carer families on their books and had applied for 900 vouchers to meet this increased need.

According to NRCF deputy chair/managing director Dona Graham, the funding shortfall will cut deeply into a program that throws a rare spotlight and lifeline to a little-known volunteer group.

“Without new donations from the local community to make up the shortfall, we will need to find the Wisdom of Solomon to decide how to equitably share the few vouchers we will receive among the many eligible grand-carers,” she said.

“If you are a grandparent yourself, or even a grandchild who wants to give back in recognition of the love and care you received as a child, please consider making a donation to the NRCF so that we can continue this unique program,” requested Ms Graham.

Donations to the NRCF at PO Box 1426, Ballina 2478 or www.nrcf.org.au.



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