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Opioid fallout: New foundation aids children’s caretakers

By Staff | Jul 11, 2019

A foundation began a few months ago after a handful of friends began sharing their personal experiences of being affected by the nation’s opioid crisis.

Family Haven Foundation President Tina Tusack said she is raising her grandchild and has, nearly since birth, due to her daughter’s struggle with addiction.

“As I began this journey of raising a child for a second time, I quickly learned the challenges that so many Americans in similar situations go through,” she said in a prepared statement. “You simply cannot prepare for this, and we intend to provide support when traditional avenues fall short.”

Many discussions were had among her closest friends, CeAnne Kaiser, Ainslie Walter and Sue Vanderbilt regarding the impacts of addiction on families. Those talks spurred the journey of starting the Family Haven Foundation.

“We decided to do something about it,” Tusack said of helping others in the same situation.

The mission of the Family Haven Foundation, which is named after Tusack’s grandchild, Haven, is “to provide financial support to the caregivers of children with unfit, or deceased, parents due to addiction.”

Tusack now has permanent legal guardianship of her 3-year-old granddaughter and although she and her husband work, she has met many other people who are going through their savings and retirement money to raise a child.

Walter said she wanted to be involved in the Family Haven Foundation because of what she watched Tusack go through with her granddaughter.

“It is unbelievable once I started learning what they were going through. There is not really a support system out there for all of these people dealing with this,” she said.

The more Walter talked to others the more she learned that a family member often begins raising a grandchild, or niece or nephew, without any preparation.

“You prepare for your retirement. You’re not expecting to raise a child at an elder stage,” she said. “I’m learning that there is not a lot of resources available. I wanted to be apart of that to help those that need the help. They are doing something wonderful in taking in these kids. However we can support people that are doing that, is how I wanted to be involved.”

In four months, the Family Haven Foundation has raised $65,000.

So far, Walter said the support they have seen from the community is tremendous.

“Everyone knows someone that is in this situation. We have had a lot of people that really wanted to help us, and that has been phenomenal,” she said.

Tusack said once an individual has primary guardianship of a child there is no help.

“We have to team up and do something. It is not going anywhere and getting better,” she said of the addictive drug epidemic.

Through an online application, caretakers can seek financial support for daycare, education and healthcare. Tusack said it was shocking to her to learn that daycare is $800 a month, which is why it falls among one of the areas the foundation will provide assistance.

“It has been a learning experience the last few years for me again,” she said.

The grant application includes such information as if the applicant is the primary caregiver and support for grandchild, or family member, 18 years old and younger, living at their residence without the parent. Other questions asks if the applicant has permanent custody of the child and if they receive any financial support from other groups, state, or federal level. The applicant’s annual income, as well as what kind of financial support they are seeking — daycare, education, healthcare, or other, is on the application.

The application can be found at www.familyhavenfoundation.com.

The foundation’s kickoff event, their first annual golf tournament, will be held Sunday, July 21, at The Club at the Renaissance. Although the tournament is sold out, Tusack said they are still looking for raffle and silent auction items. For those who would like to donate are asked to call Tusack at (239) 634-3810, or email tinatusack@comcast.net.

A fundraising event will be held at Buckett’s Wings & More following the tournament for those who want to support the foundation.