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Ties That Bind - Grandparents Parenting Their Grandchildren-JCFS General annual Meeting June 19, 2017

May 17, 2019

Like many grandparents, Karla Berkson enjoys spending time with her grandchildren. She watches their hockey games, drives them to choir practice and picks them up from playdates. But Karla doesn’t do these things on a casual basis. She does them all of the time.

That’s because Karla is the primary caregiver for her grandchildren, 15-year-old Jacob and 11- year-old Paige. They have been living with her and her partner for seven years.

Karla will be one of the guest speakers at the Jewish Child and Family Service AGM on Monday, June 19. She will be joined by Corinne and Harvey Ackerman, two other Jewish community members who also are parenting their children’s children. Their informal fireside chat will be moderated by JCFS Executive Director Al Benarroch, and touch on such topics as the benefits of kinship care, which is child care by extended family, and the rewards and challenges that come with the task of parenting grandchildren.

For Karla, one of the biggest challenges she faces in caring for her grandchildren is keeping up her energy level. Jacob and Paige are very active and involved in many extracurricular activities, and  Karla, who was already retired when they came into her life full time, finds that the constant activity at her age can be tiring.

But, she adds, that the rewards of looking after her grandchildren far outweigh any negatives.

“I consider myself lucky to have them in my life,” she says.

Although, of course, she adds, this is not what she planned for this stage of her life, she reiterates that  she is  glad that she can provide them with love, security and a home, and  give them what she couldn’t necessarily give her own children.

Harvey Ackerman voices a similar sentiment.


He and Corinne, who are both in their seventies,  have been looking after their almost 14-year-old grandson Ian for eight years. Like Karla, they never imagined that they would be in this situation, but they also would not have it any other way.

“It goes without saying there were many challenges that my wife and I had to face throughout the years with Ian and still do,” Harvey says. “However we feel we have made tremendous headway in showing him the way with proper guidance and direction.”

As a result, Harvey adds, “Ian is developing into a fine young man. “


Like Karla, he and Corinne are grateful for the ongoing support, advice and respite that JCFS provides to them and to their grandchildren.


During the AGM,  which begins at 7:15 p.m. in the Berney Theatre at the Asper Jewish Community Campus, JCFS will also be reporting on the year’s achievements, recognizing long term volunteers and partners, and awarding scholarships to deserving clients. 

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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