More and more grandparents these days are still busy raising children — their grandchildren, and in some cases their great-grandchildren.
The “why” of this trend deserves attention, but we’ll leave that for another time.
For now, we want to praise the love and devotion shown by these folks who probably would rather be enjoying retirement free from the tremendous burden of rearing offspring. The fun of being a grandparent, in the traditional sense, is being able to see the grandkids in occasional spurts, spoil them, then send them back home to mom and dad. But for many children these days, home is grandma’s house.
And while it’s a good thing these grandparents are there for these children they are raising, it’s equally good to know there is a new program in Richmond County that is there for the grandparents when they need support and encouragement. There is comfort and strength in knowing you are not alone on a sometimes difficult journey.
Across the United States, almost 7.8 million children are living in homes where grandparents or other relatives are the householders, with more than 5.8 million children living in grandparents’ homes and nearly 2 million children living in other relatives’ homes, according to AARP. These families are often called “grandfamilies.”
More than 2.5 million grandparents are taking on the responsibility for these children. Often they assume this responsibility with neither of the children’s parents present in the home. In fact, nearly 1 million children are living in homes where the grandparent is the householder and neither parent is present in the home.
GrandFacts, a study in partnership with AARP, The Brookdale Foundation Group, Casey Family Programs, Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Defense Fund, and Generations United, reports that 90,093 children in North Carolina live in homes with grandparent householders where grandparents are responsible for them, and of these children, 38,941 have no parents present in the home.
Although most grandparents have said they gain plenty of happiness from this situation, it can often lead to trouble with finances, communication and emotional capability.
These grandparent and other relative caregivers and the children they are raising are often isolated. They lack information about the range of support services, resources, programs, benefits, laws and policies available to help them successfully fulfill their caregiving role. In addition, to better serve children, families and older adults, educators and program practitioners need access to information about these key resources.
In Richmond County, grandparents raising grandchildren can seek help through a monthly support group at the Hamlet Senior Center.
“The problem with these caregivers seems to be that they don’t get enough support and don’t know how to find resources that can help them financially, legally and in terms of health,” said Sarah Mammerella, group facilitator.
The support group meets on the last Thursday of every month at the Hamlet Senior Center. Subjects discussed at upcoming meetings will include how to create living wills, financial entitlements, healthy living and more.
Cheers to these older folks willing to take on the responsibility of being a parent, again. Praise is also due to the partnership spearheaded by AARP to help these grandparents along the way.