An estimated 3 million older Americans are raising their grandchildren — many of them in the Mountain State.

West Virginia is tied for second in the nation when it comes to the number of grandparents raising grandkids. According to data taken from the U.S. Census, more than 21,000 grandparents in the state will find themselves raising their grandchildren.

Healthy Grandfamilies is a free initiative led by West Virginia State University to provide information and resources to grandparents who are raising one or more grandchildren. Since it’s inception in 2018, the program has served more than 300 families across the mountain state.

“Its a short period of time to be able to do that and we see everything from helping with housing, bedding, diapers, everything from a to z and back again,” explained WVSU Healthy Grandfamilies Program Director, Bonnie Dunn.

Dunn added, “This problem is not going away. We have started something, we have a good thing going, we just need to keep it going.”

The pilot program was launched in 2018. Last year, training sessions were held in all 55 counties across the state. Currently, 22 counties have programs implemented.

During the 2019 Legislative session, funding for the program was secured. Dunn is hoping for the same this year, however, no legislation has been brought to the table yet.

“We are at a cross roads here. We became the hub, the center, the point of contact,” explained Dunn. “To drop the ball on that now would be very devastating to the progress we have already made.”