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Increasing numbers of grandparents raise grandchildren

Over the course of a decade, the number of grandparents assuming parenting responsibilities by caring for their grandchildren has doubled. The numbers of affected children increased from 2.4 million to nearly 5 million between 2000 and 2010.

Arizona grandparents may require assistance as they face this stage of life, especially if the situation is unexpected or contentious. In many cases, this parenting role is thrust upon grandparents due to negative issues in the lives of the biological parents, and high-conflict custody situations can be among the stresses experienced. Financial challenges can also arise as childcare responsibilities are assumed during retirement years.

Grandparents may be selected as caregivers for their grandchildren in order to provide a sense of comfort to children due to familiar family values. Authorities in charge of placing children tend to seek relatives first, including grandparents. In some cases, parents have abandoned their children or have reached a point of inability to provide care. Substance use, incarceration and mental or physical disabilities could restrict a biological parent. Regardless of the reason for a child being placed in a different home, the individual assuming that responsibility must deal with a variety of issues including the child's health and education.

Community resources for custodial grandparents may be helpful in connecting individuals with support groups and services in the area. Additionally, the AARP has developed resources related to the legal and financial issues at play in such situations. A custodial grandparent may need assistance in tracking down appropriate documentation such as Social Security cards, court papers, birth and death certificates and other relevant materials.

An attorney may be of help if a situation involves significant levels of conflict with biological parents. Additionally, an attorney may provide local resource information to a grandparent who is attempting to adjust to their new role.

Source: Deseret News, "At granny's house: More children raised by grandparents than before", Lois M. Collins, August 05, 2014

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