Monday, December 21, 2015

Grandmothers raising grandchildren and poverty

Though a recent paper about poverty and failure of the social safety net in grandparent households studied primarily urban and black families, some of the issues identified apply to grandmothers in rural mostly white West Virginia, too. Particularly the difficulties grandmothers raising grandchildren face regarding affordable childcare, the challenges of trying to work to feed the family while caring for young children, and the barriers to benefits and services for both grandmother and grandchildren in informal custody arrangements are all issues faced in SGH's (skipped-generation households) here, too.

The paper points out that grandparent-headed households increased 22% since 2000. And whereas many of the urban grandmothers in the study are stepping up when their children are incarcerated, here in West Virginia an adult child's drug abuse, whether the child is incarcerated or still on the street, often results in the grandchildren heading to grandma's for what might first appear to be a temporary visit that never ends.

The paper correctly concludes that both policy development and expanded delivery of quality, accurate information to grandparents raising grandchildren about eligibility for services and benefits for their newly-expanded households would both help relieve the pressure for these families.

You can read the paper (by LaShawnDa Pittman, Assistant professor of American ethnic studies, Department of American Ethnic Studies, University of Washington) online for free at http://www.rsfjournal.org/doi/full/10.7758/RSF.2015.1.1.05">www.rsfjournal.org/doi/full/10.7758/RSF.2015.1.1.05

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