Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Resounding Resiliency of Grandfamilies: Generations United's Statement

Approximately 2.7 million grandparents in the United States are responsible for raising their grandchildren. More than one in five of these grandparents live below the poverty line. Yet their circumstances are often overlooked when trying to strengthen the financial lives of families in lower-income communities.

Despite these hardships, grandfamily households are a better alternative to placing children in non-relative care. Children raised in kinship care, or what are commonly referred to as grandfamilies, fare better than those placed in the care of non-relatives. They are more likely to report feeling loved, achieve stability, stay connected to their brothers and sisters and understand their roots and culture. They are also more likely to have a couch to crash on when they’re too old to stay in the foster care system.

And even though these grandparent caregivers are skilled money managers, they just don’t have enough to stretch when they take on raising their grandchildren.

We partnered with CFED and Citi Community Development to get a better understanding of grandfamilies, their financial lives and how the available resources can better serve them. The findings are included in our report, The Resounding Resilience of Grandfamilies: Financial Stories from Older Relatives Care for Children in Lower-Income Communities.

The report, based on interviews from 20 grandparent caregivers in Chicago and Trenton, NJ, includes stories of sacrifice. For many caregivers, sacrificing for the children meant giving up a life they envisioned. For others, these sacrifices meant giving up on thinking about the future (retirement, etc.).

These caregivers keep families together and save taxpayers $4 billion a year by keeping their grandchildren out of the foster care system.

Through our National Center on Grandfamilies, we work to enact policies and promote programs, like kinship navigators and respite care, which help grandfamilies address challenges. Research shows that programs like these can reduce costs and increase permanency, while resulting in fewer days in child welfare custody and lower rates of foster care reentry.

The Resounding Resiliency of Grandfamilies also highlights opportunities to help improve the financial situation of grandfamilies – from empowering caregivers to reach their financial goals, to seeking ways to build the capacities of caregivers’ social and family networks to financially support grandfamilies, to continuing to learn more about the financial lives of grandfamilies.

To learn more about the financial lives of the 2.7 million grandfamily caregivers in America, download The Resounding Resilience of Grandfamilies. To contribute to our knowledge about grandfamilies, share a story with us about a grandfamily in your community.

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