Support missing when grandparents find themselves parenting again
May 15, 2015
"Grandparents increasingly play a key role in the lives of their grandchildren, as our recent study of U.S. families shows. But some of the most vulnerable in this group are failing to receive the childrearing support that other similarly at-risk families receive," begins a recent post by Rachel Dunifon on the Child and Family Blog. Dunifon, director of The Role of Grandparents in the Lives of Adolescent Grandchildren project in the BCTR, goes on to explain that the past decade has seen a 30 percent increase in the proportion of children who live with both their parents and grandparents. This trend indicates that the social services that support the elderly are, more and more, also assisting children, a fact that should affect policy.
Families where a grandparent or grandparents raise children alone without a parent present are often called "grandfamilies." Dunifon notes that these types of families are often overlooked by policymakers, and left out of aid programs, but not due to a lack of need:
U.S. grandfamilies are, on average, economically disadvantaged. Nearly a third live below the federal poverty line, and almost another third have incomes less than 200 per cent of the poverty level., Grandparents in such families are less likely than parents in other family structures to be employed and are less likely to be married. We see strikingly high levels of health problems in these families – not only in the grandparents but often in the mental health of the children, likely reflecting the misfortune they have often experienced in their lives.
The blog post was also reported by Desert News in an article including personal stories of grandparents raising their grandchildren. Both source the study Grandparent Coresidence and Family Well-Being: Implications for Research and Policy (Dunifon, Ziol-Guest, and Kopko) published in The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in July 2014.
Grandparent Coresidence and Family Well-Being: Implications for Research and Policy - The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Grandparents raising children alone miss vital family benefits and supports - Child and Family Blog