Over 15,000 grandparents are raising their grandkids in Utah
Jul 19, 2023, 3:47 PM | Updated: 4:04 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — The picture of the American family is changing, and one of the big trends happening across the nation is grandparents raising their grandkids.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 7 million grandparents living with grandchildren that are under 18, with 32.7% of those being the responsible party.
In Utah, there are 64,889 grandparents living with their grandchildren under the age of 18. Only 24% of them report being responsible for raising their grandchildren.
Resources for grand families
When COVID-19 hit, many families had to adjust many aspects of their lives. Grand families, which Dixon defines as grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, also faced many challenges. After seeing an increase in demand for support for grand families, Dixon started a program to support them.
Over the last three years, we have supported over 200 of these families to the point where we were able to get congressional earmark from our Congressman, James McGovern, to establish a permanent resource center to support these families.”
The Central Massachusetts Agency received $18 million in federal funds, one of their focuses will be on hiring and training community health workers to support families with Black, Indigenous, and people of color in which grandparents are the primary caretakers.
There can be a big age difference among some of the grandparents who seek help. Dixon said there are some who are in their 40s, but most grandparents are over the age of 60. Dixon uses an example of an 80-year-old woman who is raising her three-month-old grandchild. It has been decades since she first raised her kids, and parenting now looks a lot different. Being able to adapt and get help is key for many of these families.
Legal barriers are another big challenge grandparents can face. Dixon said that there are times when even though they are taking responsibility, sometimes due to the parents’ being inaccessible, they are not recognized as the legal guardians.
“(Something) simple as enrolling a child into school becomes extremely difficult because they can’t do it,” Dixon said.
Dixon said the resource center can help parents navigate the legal barriers but also partner with daycares to help support grandparents who have regular doctors appointments.
The Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging encourages grandparents raising grandchildren to reach out for help either by calling (508) 852-5539, or visiting www.seniorconnection.org.
The Children’s Service Society of Utah also has resources available. You can visit hcssutah.org/services/kinship-care/grandfamilies-programs/ for more information.
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