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Grandparents raising grandchildren

Does anyone know a grandparent that doesn’t have a ready photograph (or several) of their grandchildren to share? There is so much joy in the faces of grandparents when they talk about visiting their grandkids or meeting their newborn grandchild for the first time. We often hear them say that it’s a different relationship because they get to spoil their grandkids and then go home. They get to spend extra money on them that they may not have had to spend on their children. But not all grandparents get to spoil their grandkids and then go home.  They instead turn into full time caregivers—parents a second time around, guardians of their grandkids due to unforeseen circumstances.

What happens when grandparents raise their grandchildren?

Most of the circumstances when grandparents (or other relatives or friends) become full-time caregivers of children are hard for both the kids and the older adult. Maybe the parents have passed away, have struggles with drugs or alcohol, or live in prison. Now the grandparents find themselves raising another generation of children. Times have changed so much since they raised their children that some grandparents feel a gap in understanding, social expectations, technology and many other aspects of life.  Perhaps the grandparent has a limited, fixed income and now has additional expenses of raising children.

How can grandparents get support for this role?

When grandparents and other relatives or close friends take on this huge responsibility of raising their grandkids or other minors, it is sometimes called “kinship care.” If you are providing kinship care, there are supports available, like after-school programs for the children paired with support groups for the grandparents. Some are focused on specific situations like grandparents raising grandchildren with developmental disabilities (like Project GRANDD), while others provide health and social work services to grandparents and grandchildren living in a certain area (such as Project Healthy Grandparents).

You can visit Georgia’s Kinship Care Portal to learn more about resources and supports for kinship caregivers. Contact empowerline to learn more about programs that might be a good fit for your situation.

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