Grandparents and Caregiving – The “Skip” Generation
by Tayla Holman
A growing area of caregiving is that of grandparents taking care of their grandchildren, or even their great-grandchildren. Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren are often referred to as the “skip generation.” A “skip” generation refers to a generation two or more below a person. The resulting household is sometimes called a “grandfamily.”
There are almost 6.7 million children in the United States living in grandfamilies, according to Census data from 2009. That’s a 64 percent increase from 10 years ago. 2.5 million children are living primarily with their grandparents, with neither biological parent present in the home. The economy has played a big role in grandchildren living with their grandparents, due to many parents – especially those who are young or single – being financially unable to take care of their children. There are other reasons, such as abuse and neglect, that also lead to more grandparents taking in their children’s children.
So what does it mean to be a grandparent providing care to one or more grandchildren?
It may mean having to postpone retirement plans for a couple of years, or losing post-retirement freedom. It may also mean having to keep a closer eye on finances now that there are more mouths to feed. It also means becoming a parent all over again, going to PTA meetings and helping with homework. And that’s just for grandparents taking care of grandchildren who are healthy.
For grandparents who are taking care of grandchildren who are mentally or physically ill, the responsibility can be an even bigger strain, both financially and mentally. There are some programs in place, such as the “Grandparent Subsidy” in Washington, DC, that provide financial assistance to grandparent caregivers, although that program recently received cuts to its budget.
As a grandparent caregiver, it is important to know that there are resources out there. We’ve already compiled a brief list, but there is one more that should be added. Grandfamilies.org is the website for the Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center, which is a collaboration between Casey Family Programs, the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law and Generations United. Grandfamilies.org offers information about adoption, financial assistance, caregiver support programs and more. This site is essentially a one-stop destination for all things related to being a grandparent caregiver.
With more and more grandparents becoming caregivers, the need for resources – financial and otherwise – is steadily increasing. What are some other websites or programs we missed? It is said that it takes a village to raise a child, so where else can grandparent caregivers find support once they’ve reentered parenthood?