GRAND Magazine - September/October 2016 - 40


grand families

CONNECT WITH GRAND

Challenges and triumphs for grandfamilies
BY DONNA M. BUTTS

Pending legislation

W

hat do Simone Biles, Kellie Pickler, and Jamie Foxx
have in common? They are the "grand successes"
of grandfamilies, families in which grandparents and
other relatives are raising children.

Working in close partnership, national advocates have successfully championed a range of legislation to improve critical
supports and services such as passage of 1) the LEGACY intergenerational housing act; 2) inclusion of grandfamilies in the
National Family Caregiver Support Act; 3) Fostering Connections
to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (which included
kinship provisions first proposed by then Senators Hillary Clinton
and Olympia Snowe); and 4) Preventing Sex Trafficking and
Strengthening Families Act of 2014.

The simple facts

Today about 2.5 million children are being raised in grandfamilies, also known as kinship care. The families are diverse and live
in every area in the country. They represent all income levels, all
races, and all ethnicities.
Grandfamilies are formed for a variety of reasons including
substance abuse, deportation, military deployment, illness, death,
incarceration, or mental illness.
For many grandparents, the new responsibility for raising their
grandchildren comes unexpectedly and without time to prepare. As
one grandmother said, "For my 50th birthday, I got a two year old."
Most grandparents hope raising the children will be temporary. Yet more than 40% report that they have been responsible
for the children for more than five years.
Despite challenges, research confirms that children fare better
in the care of their relatives. Compared to children in non-relative
care, they have more stability, are more likely to be kept together
with brothers and sisters, and preserve their cultural heritage and
community bonds. Caregivers also report experiencing benefits,
such as having an increased sense of purpose in life.

The challenges

Children living with grandparents are more likely to be living in
poverty. One in five grandparents raising grandchildren live below
40 GRAND

SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2016

Olympic champion Simone Biles,
with her grandparents, Ron and Nellie
the poverty line (21 percent). The sudden increase in household
size leaves many grandparents struggling, especially those living
on a fixed income. Now, in addition to basics like food, medicine,
and housing, they face a host of additional expenses, like buying
diapers, school supplies, and replacing the clothes a child quickly
outgrows.
In 1997, Generations United became the first national organization to address the issue of grandparents and other relatives
raising children from the perspective of what is best for both the
older and younger generations. While public awareness about
the invaluable role grandfamilies play in raising our country's children has increased over the years, public policy still lags behind.

"

But even though grandfamilies save
our country four billion dollars a year
by keeping children out of the child welfare
system, these "informal" caregivers seldom
receive the financial support they need,
or the respect they deserve.
Continue reading

"

Donna Butts, Executive Director
of Generations United, is an internationally known
speaker, author and advocate, she frequently
addresses intergenerational connections,
grandparents raising grandchildren and policies
effective across the lifespan.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - September/October 2016

Contents
GRAND Magazine - September/October 2016 - 1
GRAND Magazine - September/October 2016 - 2
GRAND Magazine - September/October 2016 - 3
GRAND Magazine - September/October 2016 - Contents
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