Sharon Olson helps relatives navigate kinship care
Since 1994, when the state of New Mexico asked her to care for her three young grandchildren, Sharon Olson has dedicated herself to ensuring relative care providers have the information, support and assistance they need to provide consistent, safe and nurturing homes for the children in their care. Olson, of Elk River, Minnesota, was instrumental in the passage of Minnesota’s De Facto Custodian legislation, which was adopted in 2002 after years of research, advocacy and coalition building.
“I came to realize that the only way to make a difference is to be involved,” she says.
For more than 10 years, Olson has served on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Kinship Caregivers Association, including as board chair. Working at the national level, she co-founded Grand Families of America (GFA) and serves as vice president. GFA’s purpose and mission is to ensure that the voice of the caregiver is heard by legislators and policymakers in Washington, D.C.
Olson received a 2013 Casey Excellence for Children Award for kinship caregivers.