Grandparents raising their grandchild/ren are slowly becoming a raising epidemic in today’s society. This new trend of grandparents raising their grandchildren has become the focus of many researchers. Researchers are exploring the health perspective and the emotional perspective, but there is little research on the policies that must change to accommodate neither this new family structure nor the social issues surrounding it. This paper will take information from ten sources and two interviews to give a clear perspective of this growing population in social work practice. The information will address thought-provoking facts, the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of social work practice, and the experiential component which includes two documented conversations an lastly my thoughts on the subject.
The Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons or AARP research shows that the United States has close to 5.7 million children living in grandparents’ homes. These families are often called “grand families.” Grandparents providing sole care and custody for grandchildren populations are slowly becoming a trend, but have been part of families’ structure since the 1940s (Goodman & Silverstein, 2006). According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 5.8 million grandparents are living with their grandchildren under the age of 18 and 42% of these grandparents have primary responsibility for their grandchildren (Grinstead, L.N., Leder, S., & Torres, E., 2007).
The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 1970, 2.2 million or 3.2 percent of children in the United States lived in a household maintained by a grandparent. However by 1997, this number had risen to 5.5 percent or 3.9 million, a 76 percent increase over 27 years. This rising trend in grandparent-headed families is due to increasing drug abuse among parents, teen pregnancy, divorce, the rapid rise of single parent households, mental and physical illnesses, AIDS, crime, child abuse and neglect, and incarceration, as well the preference to place children with relatives over nonrelatives when removed by child protective service (CPS) (Campos, P.E., Kelley, S.J., Whitley, D.M., 2012). Lastly, parents’ serving in the military requires grandparents to step at least temporarily to assume temporary parenting responsibilities for their grandchildren.
Social and economic changes have increased the number of parents who need help raising their children. This combination has led to an increase in both the incidence and prevalence of grandparents’ care giving (Hughes, E., LaPierre, T.A., Lou, Y., & Waite, L.J., 2012). Research studies have found substantial health problems among grandchildren being raised by their grandparents and the grandparents raising them. Those studies recorded high rates of asthma, weakened immune systems, poor eating and sleeping patterns, physical disabilities and hyperactivity among grandchildren being raised by their grandparents (Dowdell 1995; Minkler and Roe...