The number of children being raised by their grandparents shot up, doubling from 2000's 2.4 million to 4.9 million in 2010, according to U.S. Census figures.
Many times, situations arise in which a child can no longer safely live with a biological parent or legal guardian, Mary Jane Di Paolo, assistant director of Community Child Care Solutions, told USA Today and the New Jersey Courier News. She said that New Jersey's Department of Child and Families tries to place children first with relatives and acquaintances whom the child knows, which may be one reason more children are living with grandparents.
“Grandparents provide similar family values that the parent was raised with. This could be a comfort to both the parent and child,” she said.
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, “Often, grandparents take on this obligation when the grandchildren's own parents abandon them or when the children can no longer live with them because of the parent's mental disorder, substance abuse, or incarceration.”
The federal government has created a list of resources for grandparents who are raising their grandkids. It includes potential for some financial support, tips and health and safety resources.
State and local agencies are also trying to help. For instance, in Oklahoma, police agencies, aging services, a local recycler and others have teamed up to involve the entire community in filling backpacks with grade-appropriate supplies to help grandparents outfit children for the upcoming school year, according to The Edmond Sun.
The University of Wisconsin cooperative extension offers a series of fact sheets for grandparents who are doing an encore parenting stint. Topics range from child development to disruption in relationships and how to form close bonds.
The AARP GrandFamilies Guide looks at everything from legal issues to finance, work, education and childcare, support and more. It also has a list of documents that will make it easier for grandparents raising their grandchildren, including birth certificates, death certificates if the child's parents are dead, divorce decrees, Social Security cards, medical records, guardianship papers and power of attorney, consent forms signed by parents if applicable, school papers, documentation of income and assets if applying for any financial assistance including reduced or free school lunches, citizenship papers and more.
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