Video: Grandparents as Substitute Parents
In 2015, the journal Pediatrics estimated some 3 million children were living with grandparents – and the number is certainly higher today. Grandparents find themselves in a caregiving role in the aftermath of parents’ myriad personal traumas, including opioid addiction, suicide, incarceration, and now COVID-19.
In this excellent PBS NewsHour video, “Grandfamilies,” grandparents tell journalist Stephanie Sy about the financial and emotional toll of caring for children. Despite the challenges, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
But the financial strain is real. Some of the people Sy interviewed said their childcare duties have forced them to close businesses, and others are earning less due to the pandemic.
Lisa Banks stretches herself thin helping each of her three grandchildren with their remote learning. The new members of her household have also increased the electricity and food bills – her two grandsons are teenagers. “It’s like, I’m hungry, I’m hungry, I’m hungry. You hear it all day,” said Banks, who gets food assistance from a non-profit on Sundays.
COVID-19 adds another layer of worries. Kim Elia, who is standing in for her 11-year-old granddaughter’s parents, is recovering from the disease. “I was truly afraid to die because of what would happen to Brooklyn,” she said.
Raising children is a big job for young adults. A second go-around late in life seems even harder.
Read our blog posts in our ongoing coverage of COVID-19.
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There's a solution to some of these cases that has been around for many years that few take advantage of. More and more grandparents are finding themselves raising their grandchildren. Social Security will pay benefits to grandchildren when the grandparent retires, becomes disabled, or dies, if certain conditions are met. Generally, the biological parents of the child must be deceased or disabled, or the grandparent must legally adopt the grandchild.https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.03/handbook-0325.html
The problem with this is that by adopting a grandchild, parents (grandparents raising grandchildren) live in hope that their child might get his/her act together and take over that responsibility!