Andrea Francis | Movers & Shakers 2019 – Innovators

As manager at the West Toledo Branch, Toledo Lucas County Public Library, Andrea Francis noticed one particular impact of the nation’s opioid epidemic on her customers: more children being raised by grandparents. “Ten percent of Ohio households have grandparents filling the role of primary caregiver,” says branch services manager Susan Skitowski.

Andrea Francis

CURRENT POSITION

Branch Manager, Toledo Lucas County Public Library

DEGREE

MLIS, Wayne State University, 2015

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toledolibrary.org

Photo by Kelsey Coogan

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Grand Planner

As manager at the West Toledo Branch, Toledo Lucas County Public Library, Andrea Francis noticed one particular impact of the nation’s opioid epidemic on her customers: more children being raised by grandparents. “Ten percent of Ohio households have grandparents filling the role of primary caregiver,” says branch services manager Susan Skitowski.

A board member of a local senior center, Francis had been introduced to the Grandparent Project, founded in 2014, which provides support for those in that position.

She knew the library could expand the reach of the senior center’s program with evening hours, a “reputation for reliable information sharing,” and the ability to provide a separate program for children. The core of the program is a series of lectures from community partners on “key topics…grandparents need in raising grandchildren...legal, education, emotions/behavior, and resources,” says Francis.

Now, libraries systemwide host the project, increasing access to information and providing “the friendships and programming to help grandparents tackle the day-to-day challenges as we work together to make their situations successful,” says Francis. Participants have come from at least five counties in the Toledo area and report “improved relationships with schools and administrators” as one outcome of their attendance. In response to a survey of participants, Francis developed offshoots, including the Grandparent Club and Grandparent Playdate to address the isolation and loneliness expressed by many grandparents raising children. “We are connecting grandparents to information, forming relationships with community organizations, and, in turn, introducing them to [fellow] grandparents who participate,” says Francis.

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