Did you know? Recent U.S. Census data shows that nearly 6 million children are living with and being raised by 2.5 million grandparents. Locally, 40.9 percent of grandparents living in Albemarle County, and 41.5 percent in Charlottesville, are responsible for their grandchildren. Now there’s a support group to help raise awareness about this growing trend…
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Group Hopes to Raise Awareness About Challenges Facing “Grandfamilies”
Charlottesville, Virginia – September 8, 2015 – Several area non-profits, Charlottesville and Albemarle County Schools, and the Charlottesville and Albemarle County Departments of Social Services have formed a working group, led by the Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA), to raise awareness about the growing number of grandparents in our area who have found themselves having to raise their children’s children. The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Group will provide a single point of reference for these so-called “grandfamilies” in our area so that they can get the support they need.
Indeed, over the last 30 years, the number of grandparents raising children in the United States has increased dramatically. Growing unemployment, and under-employment, housing foreclosures, substance abuse problems, incarceration, illness, divorce, abandonment, abuse, and teen pregnancy are some of the common reasons why children are being raised by grandparents. For many grandparents the situation was thrust upon them. Recent U.S. Census data shows that nearly 6 million children are living with and being raised by 2.5 million grandparents. What’s more, over 20 percent of these children have neither parent present in their lives. And while grandparent-headed families are very diverse, they are most likely to be female, African-American, and living in poverty.
While more and more grandparents across the nation are caring for their grandchildren, it is also the case locally. According to the Kids Count Data Center, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, data from 2006-2010 show that 40.9 percent of grandparents living in Albemarle County, and 41.5 percent in Charlottesville, are responsible for their grandchildren.
“There are unique challenges to raising a child when you thought you were done,” says Donna Baker, JABA’s Director of Operations. ” As the number of grandparents raising grandkids rises, this group of organizations has come together to better understand the issues and the importance of letting grandparents know that there is support for them in our community, that is informed and easily accessible.”
According to AARP, while most grandparents say they are happy to help, and find joy in raising their grandkids, they also face “financial, health, housing, education and work challenges that often foil their retirement plans.”
“These grandparents and other kinship caregivers and the children they are raising are often isolated,” states AARP. “They lack information about the range of support services, resources, programs, benefits, laws and policies available to help them successfully fulfill their caregiving role. In addition, to better serve children, families and older adults, educators and program practitioners need access to information about these key resources.”
JABA, United Way, the Departments of Social Services for Charlottesville and Albemarle County, County and City Schools, the UVA School of Nursing, ReadyKids, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, the Thomas Jefferson Area Health District, and Charlottesville Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR), hope their Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Group will make it easier for grandparents and their families to feel less isolated and gain access to the resources available in our community.
For grandparents seeking support about resources available in this area, contact the United Way Help Line at 434.972.1701.
For more information about the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Group, contact Donna Baker, JABA’s Director of Operations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 434.817.5228
JABA (Jefferson Area Board for Aging)