By Greg Link, Director of the Office of Supportive and Caregiver Services
Grandparents play a special role in families. They pass along traditions, wisdom, and culture to future generations. Increasingly, they also provide loving and stable homes to their grandchildren. Nearly eight million children are raised in a family led by a grandparent. In a third of these families, there are no parents in the home—the grandparents are fulfilling that role.
I met an amazing group of grandparents last month when ACL facilitated the first meeting of the Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (SGRG). The goal of the Council is to recognize these challenges and identify programs and resources that can help grandparents and grandfamilies to be successful and healthy. Several Council members have stepped up to help raise their own grandkids—and to advocate for families like theirs.
Grandfamilies face special challenges. Often, they have gone through the separation or loss of a loved one. They may not have adequate housing; they may depend on a grandparent’s fixed income that doesn’t stretch far enough to support a family. In some cases, grandparents may not have the authority to enroll their grandchildren in school or get them the health care they need. The time and attention required to care for children may mean that grandparents don’t take care of their own health as well as they should.
Since 2000, ACL’s National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) has been a resource for many grandfamilies, providing them with information, counseling, and access to other programs and services that might be available to assist them. In 2017, the NFCSP provided more than 230,000 hours of respite care to grandparents and other relatives raising grandchildren. This gave them time to rest, as well as focus on their own physical and emotional health, so they could continue to be there for those in their care.
This Grandparents Day, we celebrate the dedication, love, and determination that these grandparents—and all grandparents—bring to families across the country. Join ACL, the SGRG Council, and communities across the nation in celebrating and supporting grandparents—not just on Grandparents Day but throughout the year.