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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Wyandotte/Leavenworth Area Agency on Aging Supports Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Learn how a AAA worked with a local school district to assist grandparents raising grandchildren with school supplies and uniforms at the beginning of every school year.

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2019 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on Wyandotte/Leavenworth Area Agency on Aging's Dress for Success program. The agency was a 2019 Aging Achievement Award winner in the Caregiving category.
 
There's only one week left to nominate your AAA's program for a 2020 AIA Award! Read our nominations process guide and consider submitting some of your programs for this year's awards before next week's March 6 deadline!
 
The Wyandotte/Leavenworth Area Agency on Aging partnered with a local school district in Wyandotte County to identify grandparents with grandchildren enrolled in grades K-12 who were eligible for assistance from the Dress for Success program. To help grandparents who are primary caregivers for their grandchildren and live on a fixed income the Dress for Success program provides financial assistance with the purchase of grade level–specific school supplies, bookbags, socks and two sets of uniforms for each child.
 
The Dress for Success program benefits the community by offering assistance to at-risk students—who are the future of the community. Knowing that students who are prepared and do well in school are usually successful as adults, the Dress for Success program helps children start the school year off on positive footing and also shows them the benefit of giving back.
 
Grandparents participating in the program are grateful to not have to worry about the added stress of providing school supplies and uniforms on their already limited budget, which makes the beginning of a new school year less burdensome. The program helps relieve the added pressure that stepping into the role of parent again can sometimes bring. 
 
For AAAs interested in developing a similar program, the Wyandotte/Leavenworth Area Agency on Aging recommends developing a partnership with the local school district to identify grandparents needing assistance. After grandparents are identified, letters should be sent to the grandparents from the AAA notifying them of the assistance available. It may be helpful to develop a list of criteria or emphasis a first-come, first-served policy if there are a large number of grandparents needing assistance. Working with larger department stores for uniforms and supplies is helpful to serve more, even within tight budget constraints.
 
To learn more about Wyandotte/Leavenworth Area Agency on Aging's Dress for Success program, contact Ruth Jones, Executive Director, at rjones@wycokck.org.
 
For more information about the 2019 winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community! You can also listen to our four-part webinar series, n4a Lunchtime Innovations, to hear your peers' secrets to success for these award-winning programs.

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