Parenting: Round Two

When biological parents are unable to give their children the
care they need, parents often look to their own parents to fill in
as primary caregivers. Drug abuse, death, divorce, and military
service have made these ‘grandfamilies’ an increasingly common
According to Molly M. Ginty of Women’s
, the number families headed by grandparents in
the United States has reached 5.8 million, a 60 percent increase
from 1990.?

Unfortunately, many grandparents aren’t in the financial
position to take on these roles. To ease some of the burden,
Congress recently introduced the Kinship Caregiver Support Act,
which would extend government subsidies available to foster
families to grandparents caring for grandchildren. Citing
statistics from the Washington-based nonprofit Generations United,
Ginty notes that grandfamilies save the foster care system an
estimated $6.5 billion each year. Less quantifiable is the fact
that grandparents also provide their grandchildren with a nurturing
upbringing in a familiar and familial setting.

While the federal government struggles to change its policies
for the better, a few organizations aren’t waiting for legislators
to start improving the lives of grandfamilies.? One such
the ?Next American City reported in
, is the GrandFamilies House in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
With its 26-apartment housing facility, the GrandFamilies House
created a community where grandfamilies can offer community,
strength, and peer companionship to each other.
According to a 1999 article from Peacework
, the house was designed as a model for other
similar housing setups, catering to the needs of both the elderly
and the very young.

Similar homes are currently being planned in Chicago, New York
City, and Cleveland,
the ChicagoTribune
. The complexes are designed to combine amenities for
the elderly, such as shower hand rails, with services for
children, like after-school mentoring. The intergenerational
environment is designed to give a strong support system to
grandparents raising children, who often feel isolated and
reluctant to ask for help in other housing communities. ‘Seniors
have needs and kids have needs,’ notes Patricia Abrams, who is
developing a ‘grandfamily building’ in Chicago. ‘But they all
need a supportive environment.’


Go there>>
Grandmothers Strain Resources to Raise

Go there, too>>
Grandfamilies: An Unsupported Safety Net

And there >>
The GrandFamilies House

And there>>
Raising Buildings for Grandparents Who Are
Raising Kids

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