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Tips for providers working with Grandfamilies

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Things to Keep in Mind When Working With Grandfamilies www paparentandfamilyalliance org Families come in all shapes and sizes Grandparents or even Great Grandparents raising their grandchildren Grandfamilies are becoming more and more prevalent and these families have a unique set of needs In order to be an effective service provider for your grandfamilies take a look at these tips below which come directly from individuals who have raised or are currently raising their grandchildren Circumstances Role confusion may be an issue as they transition from the role of grandparent to primary caregiver Reunification services cause a lot of challenges for many grandfamilies Many grandparents find that reunification is rushed and that it may not be in the best interest of the children The manner in which they gain custody of their grandchildren could be traumatic for both the child and the grandparent Trauma informed providers may be necessary Common ways in which grandchildren may be placed into the custody of their grandparents are Substance Abuse Disorder Incarceration Death Grandparents informally raising their grandchildren face additional challenges as far as legal protections access to records educational and medial decision making the fear that the children can be taken back by the parent if they ask for child support etc If they gained custody because their child has or had substance abuse disorder they may have fears about their grandchildren going down a similar road Health Grandparents may be concerned about their own health and the ability to raise a child at their age They may not be able to afford their own healthcare and the healthcare of their grandchildren It can be overwhelming to think about how old they will be once their grandchildren graduate They may need prompts and ideas on how to take the time for their mental and physical health it is ultimately better for the children in the long run Social Impacts They may experience isolation from their peers who are not raising children There may be a generational gap and a lot of their parenting styles may be what some might consider old school It is possible they could mourn the life they thought they would have All of their peers have a newfound sense of freedom now that their kids are adults and it may be hard to accept that this is not their reality This sense of mourning can make many grandparents feel guilty for feeling this way Keep in mind that grandparents can be much younger or older great grandparents than you think so don t assume they are all in the same place in their lives

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Economic Financial Gaining custody of their grandchild ren can create unexpected expenses and cause economic hardships in addition to the strain on family dynamics A grandparent may need to leave their job to take care of their grandchildren causing even more economic distress They may not have savings available to purchase needed items for their expanded household beds dressers etc Housing issues can occur for the grandfamilies They could be evicted from their subsidized housing that don t allow children They could have to move to a less affordable and larger house in order to have enough space for their grandchildren They may need to sell their homes in order to afford raising children again Childcare including before after school care and care over the summer is an unexpected and expensive issue They may need help with transportation especially in rural communities Connecting Grandfamilies Help connect grandfamilies with one another socially to alleviate isolation Help createa a support system of grandparents who are in similar boats as well as facilitating the ability of grandchildren to interact and connect with other grandchildren in similar situations Offer them support groups incentives Activities for children to do during the meetings Providing a meal or coffee What They Need Legal help regarding custody and their rights Wills and estate planning Show them their strengths They have already raised a child ren and have wisdom from that experience Reinforce that what they are doing for their grandchildren is admirable Personal Resilience Wisdom Positivity Sacrifice etc Many do not know what resources are out there for them They need to hear about what services can benefit their grandchildren and themselves In general how to navigate the child serving systems May need educational help and training on how to advocate for their grandchild with their school How to utilize and help with the technology their grandchildren will need for school Homework help Bring services to grandfamilies or offer online options Some are wary about driving long distances or driving in the dark For more information check out the Grandfamilies tab of our Learning Lab www paparentandfamilyalliance org