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Grandparents Step Up to the Plate

My favorite sport is baseball so this analogy is quite meaningful to me.

Stepping up to the plate can take on many forms. Some are involved from the minute their child tells them a baby is on the way. They plan to be involved in helping educate the child for at least the first five years of the baby’s life and some view pregnancy as the initial learning period and get involved then. Others find themselves moving in with the younger parents and and each generation helps the other out economically and emotionally.

So, just as there are many baseball teams, there are a multitude of family learning teams that involve grandparents.

At the other end of the spectrum there are numerous grandparents who find themselves working with their grandchildren out of financial and /or legal necessity.

Nationally, there are about 5 million children being taken care of by grandparents or extended family members.(West Valley View Newspaper, September 4, 2015) who become the caretaker for a second time after raising their own children. This article speaks to the issue in Arizona where more than 100,000 children are being raised by grandparents or other relatives. This is according to data collected by Duet: Partners in Health and Aging.

Grandparents in this situation need help in finding resources and services for extended family members caring for relatives children. The reasons why a grandparent may be taking care of a grandchild vary from family to family, but the most common reasons are the parents’ substance abuse, mental illness or incarceration.

According to Patricia Dominguez, social worker and director of Duet, there is also child abuse and neglect, possibly domestic violence and immigration. Grandparents have to step in and keep the family together and that is no easy task at times and the challenges can be daunting.

So, kudos to Duet and other agencies who step up and provide workshops with information on financial literacy, advocating needs, guardianship,, and adoption processes, legal guidance, community leadership and other areas grandparents find themselves dealing with.

In my teaching experience, I found myself often reaching out to grandparents with friendship because I remembered how much my parents helped me and they sometimes just need a touch of kindness and compassion.

Jo Dillery

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