Today, more grandparents are raising grandchildren than ever before. Nationally, census data shows that 2.4 million grandparents were the primary caregivers for children in 2010. By 2012 that figure had risen to 2.7 million. A recent Arizona study indicates that the percentage of children under age 6 living with grandparents who are the primary caregivers rose from 11.2% in 2010, to 14.2% in 2012.
The reasons for grandparents having to step into the shoes of a parent are many. The list includes teen pregnancy, substance abuse, incarceration, financial difficulties, mental illness, and other problems. But one thing is clear - raising grandchildren is expensive and can squeeze grandparents financially. Sometimes it can even break them. In Arizona, like other cities, the greater percentage of children who are cared for by grandparents reside in lower income communities. A report by the Phoenix-based non-profit organization, Children's Action Alliance, shows that about 21 percent of grandparents in Arizona who are raising children live in poverty.
But what many grandparents may not realize is that help is available in the form of both support groups and financial assistance. Local groups such as First Things First can provide grants to help grandparents pay their bills. In addition, by becoming foster parents, grandparents can receive a monthly stipend to help them afford the cost of raising their grandchildren. Support groups have sprung up around the Valley, which allow grandparents to meet and talk with counselors and other grandparents who are in the same position.
When grandparents have to put aside retirement plans and step in and care for their grandchildren, it is a life-altering experience, filled with great stress and economic uncertainty. If you are a grandparent in this position, please know that help is available. It is there for you. So, don't hesitate to use it.
Our office has a wealth of experience representing grandparents in "in loco parentis" custody and visitation cases for over 30 years, and we are a strong advocate for grandparents' rights. Our attorney, Gary Frank is an expert courtroom litigator, as well as a mediator, and a former Superior Court Judge Pro Tem. If you are in need of a consultation regarding grandparents' rights, call us today at 602-383-3610; or contact us by email through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.