Okay, so most grandparents don’t have a lot to complain about when it comes to their grandkids. After all, they are not the primary caregiver. They get to spoil the grandkids and then send them home. Or maybe they babysit the children once in a while or they pick them up from daycare or school once a week. However, there are some grandparents that are taking on a much bigger responsibility and are actually raising their grandkids. It is estimated by Generations United that there are about 2.6 million American children being raised by grandparents or relatives.
There are all sorts of reasons why this may happen. It could be that the parents are unable financially or emotionally to take care of their children. Or It could be that the parents have an addiction, or they passed away. Whatever the reason, the onus often falls on the grandparents to shoulder the burden. And that’s not easy. Once you hit the grandparent stage, you are often ready to retire or at least enjoy your empty nest. However, you don’t assume that you will be changing diapers regularly or arranging play dates but that’s the new reality for many grandparents. In this blog, FirstLantic explores ways that grandparents can get the emotional support and financial assistance that they may need while taking on this unexpected role.
One of the biggest challenges for grandparents that are raising their grandchildren is that are often winding down their careers and they don’t have the financial resources to easily support additional family members. Kinship Navigator programs were specifically designed to provide a single point of entry for connections to housing, health services, financial and legal assistance. Almost every state now has a program and you can find out more about the benefits that your state offers, by clicking here. In addition, there may be other financial and legal support programs that you can take advantage of directly including:
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which is time limited, assists families with children when the parents or other responsible relatives cannot provide for the family's basic needs.
Subsidized guardianships provide financial assistance to caregivers who assume legal guardianship of a child in out-of-home care.
Supports those families with children who have disabilities.
Childcare is often one of the biggest items in families’ monthly budgets. It is often higher than the cost of housing, college tuition, transportation, or food. There a variety of programs that may be able to help and you can find them at Childcare.gov.
CHIP provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid.
Grandfamilies.org serves as a national legal resource in support of grandfamilies within and outside the child welfare system. They educate individuals about state laws, legislation and policy and assist in exploring policy options to support relatives and the children in their care. For information about state by state programs, you can click here.
Generations United works to promote high-quality intergenerational programs that improve the lives of participants of all ages and their communities. Through resource development, awards, and recognition, Generations United highlights intergenerational solutions to community challenges.
Emotional Support and Other Resource Programs: Connecting with other people that are going through the same thing is often as important as financial or legal support. As one grandparent said, “If you go on there and you say something, you have hundreds of responses from people who know the exact feeling that you’re having,” You know you’re not alone. You know that there are people out there who get you.”
Below are a few of the groups that are available to support families:
grandparent2grandparent – Facebook group helping families that are dealing with addiction
Grandparents Raising your Grandchildren - Identifies available resources and shares caregiver stories
NACAC - Maintains a database of support groups
AARP - Provides helpful list of resources available to grandparents
In summary, you are doing something truly amazing and incredibly hard at the same time. And you should not shy away from asking for help. Whether that be getting assistance from non-profits, government agencies, support groups or even other family members and friends, there is help out there. If a good friend asks how they can support you, take them up on their offer and ask them to babysit for a night. Do something that helps you rejuvenate whether that’s a yoga class or simply going down the street to have a coffee. You will be a better caregiver for your grandchildren when you take care of yourself both emotionally and physically. Lastly, consider joining a class where you can actually share some fun and healthy physical activity with your grandchildren. There are exercise programs (some of which are free) that are specifically designed for joint participation. It will be good for them and for you!
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