Becoming a parent is a life changer for anyone. In some cases, though, parents face challenges that totally hinder their ability care for their children, whether due to mental illness, death, incarceration, substance abuse, or poverty. This is where grandparents often step in to fill the gap and become the sole caregiver for a child or children in their family. The United States Census Bureau reports that in 2012, 7 million or 10 percent of grandparents in the country lived with at least one grandchild. Of those grandparents, 2.7 million or about 4 percent were not only living with, but raising, their grandchildren. Locally and recently, the proportion is even higher. A 2017 State of Our Children and Families Report created and distributed by Support for Early Learning and Families (SELF), SW WA Early Learning Regional Coalition, and Thrive Washington, showed that 39 percent of grandparents in Clark County live with their grandchildren and are responsible for them.
Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren have a big job, and it’s one that they may not have necessarily anticipated. It’s daunting to face raising a child again when that chapter of life had seemingly ended. There’s no doubt about it, though—even though raising grandkids can be challenging, there are many resources to help grandparents navigate this path. And the reward? Being involved in a grandchild’s life, seeing him grow, and giving him the opportunities to experience love and acceptance for years to come.