Grandparents are increasingly parenting grandchildren, and many are falling behind financially when they step up to care for their grandchildren.

Grandparents are Increasingly Parenting GrandchildrenAcross the country, 2.7 million grandparents have primary responsibility for raising grandchildren.  One fifth of all grandparents raising grandchildren live below the poverty line.

Since 2009, the number of grandparents raising grandchildren has risen by 7 percent.  According to experts, the trend will continue as a result of the epidemic in opiate addiction as well as military deployment and an increase in the number of women who are incarcerated.

An increasing number of infants are taken from their parents due to drug and mental health issues.  States are placing more children with relatives instead of foster care outside the family, due to research that shows that children do better in the care of family.

According to Generations United, a nonprofit group that advocates on behalf of kinship families, placing children with relatives instead of with foster parents is cost effective.  But kinship families need social supports, such as legal services, support groups, and other social services that would help stabilize families that are struggling.

Many grandparents who are raising their grandchildren have disabilities or persistent health problems. “People who step forward, step forward because there is a crisis in their family and apparently don’t take into account their own limitations,” said Esme Fuller-Thomson, a professor of social work at the University of Toronto.

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