Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Hallelujah, you have made it! You are entering your twilight years! You have grandiose ideas of traveling the country in your RV with the love of your life; enjoying the sights and relaxing after many years working, raising your children and saving for your future.
Suddenly, your well-laid plans are blown to smithereens. You find yourself the primary caregiver of your grandchildren. This is not how you expected this life to go! Unfortunately, you are not alone in this change of life plans. According to the census bureau, 2.6 million people are raising their grandkids now.
Some parents are in jail, others are addicted, and sometimes your children are unable to be proper parents to their children. If you are in this position, it really does't matter how you got here. The reasons vary but the result is the same, you as the grandparent feel compelled to step up and take responsibility for the children.
What do you do now? Where do you go? How does a 50, 60 or 70-year-old pick up the pieces and become the legal guardian of their grandchild?
Unlike your own children, there are legal issues that you face. Simply providing medical care becomes a hurdle because they are not your child. Thankfully, there are websites that offer great insight on how to proceed. AARP can help - their website guides you through getting started, what documents you need, who to talk to and how to find support.
If you need state-specific information, the Colorado government has a 57-page resource guide for navigating kinship care. A great resource that provides a lot of information straight from the state. You can access it by going to the Colorado Kinship connection website here: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs/kinship-connection
One of the largest concerns grandparents have is how to make their financial ends meet the new demands of raising their grandchildren. The good news is there is assistance; you may qualify for county, state or federal programs that can help you. Check with the local human services agency in your area to learn more. You can visit their website here.
The new life you are entering into does change your social life. Some people find the transition difficult to navigate and may feel isolated and unprepared. You can attend grandparents support groups to meet others in your situation, gather new parenting tips and network with your peers. Check your local church; or department of human health office for resources or support groups near you. The Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University has a list here that breaks it out into different counties.
In each of our lives, things sometimes turn out differently than we imagined. While you may feel unprepared for this new phase of life, it is nice to know that you are not alone. There are people that can help you move forward and create a new world for yourself and your grandchild.
Colorado Department of Human Services. (2017, November). Children and Family Kinship Connection. Retrieved from Kinship Navigation Guide: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs/kinship-connection
Colorado State University. (2018, September 10). Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. Retrieved from Department of Human Development and Family Studies: http://grg.colostate.edu/.
Goyer, A. (2018, September 10). Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. Retrieved from AARP Relationship Friends & Family: https://www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/info-08-2011/grandfamilies-guide-getting-started.html