Guest Author - Cathy Brownfield
It’s a crazy world that we live in. People are the same, one generation after another. The circumstances of our environment may differ, but human emotion is consistent: love, hate, joy, anger, jealousy, envy, greed, sharing…
There was a presentation at a city historical society meeting, “The Rise and Fall of American Slavery.” As the presenter spoke and shared her research, it was easy to see that people have always had their ideas and ideals. People have, and always have had, agendas…personal agendas. It seems that it’s all about—and always has been about—“taking care of number one because if I don’t take care of me nobody else is going to.” It’s not a new concept for the contemporary world.
However, in some information I was sifting through in preparation for an article I am writing, I learned some interesting facts about grandparenting in the state of Ohio. What’s grandparenting got to do with the topic? Grandparents have the opportunity to make a difference in our world, to make it a better place. Grandparents can make a difference.
Ponder these facts:
· Grandparents are the primary parents to their grandchildren in 10 percent of all Ohio households with children.
· According to the 1990 census, 167,199 Ohio children live with their grandparents.
· In 32,340 Ohio households with children, the grandparent is the primary caregiver is approximately age 55.
· Grandparents assume parental roles for various reasons, all related to the biological parent(s) including substance abuse, divorce/separation, employment, abandonment, teenage pregnancy, pursuit of education, finances, death, physical/mental illness/disability, homelessness, child abuse/neglect and incarceration.
· Over half of children cared for by grandparents are under age 6.
· Half of grandparents provide for more than one grandchild.
· 87 percent of caregiver grandparents are female; 43 percent unmarried.
· Household annual income for 51 percent of grandparents is under $30,000. 25 percent have annual incomes under $15,000.
Do you know the statistics in your region? If you live in the United States, you should be able to find information about grandparents raising grandchildren in your state. Are you one of those grandparents who has put their lives on hold because your first concerns are for the best interests of your grandchildren? Could you benefit from a grandparenting support group?
“Nationally,” reports AARP, “2.4 million grandparents report they are responsible for their grandchildren living with them.”
The Ohio Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Task Force also advised the Ohio General Assembly on the problems and concerns of Ohioans raising their grandchildren. Those concerns are:
· Grandparent finances.
· Grandchildren’s education and safety
· Grandchildren’s health coverage.
Additionally, Ohio grandparents caring for their grandchildren regard as the most important services:
· legal information
· stress reduction programs
· respite services
· information and referral
It is important for grandparents to have legal authorization for the children they are caring for: to register a child for school or grand consent for medical treatment. More than 75 percent of grandparents do not have legal guardianship for the grandchildren they are parenting.
Other issues include:
· temporary assistance to needy families (TANF)
· health needs
· emotional health of child
· physical health of grandparents
· emotional/mental health of grandparents
· financial assistance to low-income grandparents
· grandchild care
· school-age care
The Area Agency on Aging, your state’s Department on Aging and the U.S. Department of Human Services have resources available to grandparents who are raising grandchildren. These programs are supported by tax dollars—your tax dollars at work. Use them. Grandparents who set their own plans aside for their grandchildren are performing a courageous act for a noble cause…helping a new generation to grow up with the concepts of love, caring, compassion and honor that they will carry with them all of their lives in the crazy world that we all live in. You deserve the benefits of any resources that are available to help you to achieve that end.
The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. The line is more than the title for William Ross Wallace’s poem. It recognizes motherhood as a most important influence for change in our world. (A google search of the title will take you to the poem.)