Wednesday, August 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

On mental health: grandparents raising grandchildren

By
From page A10 | December 23, 2012 |

By Oscar Wright

You assumed that your days of raising children were over. But surprisingly, a twist of fate happens with little or no advance notice. You have to raise your grandchildren, and one child experiences a severe mental disorder.

When parents are rendered unable to care for their children because of incarceration, poverty, substance abuse, or some serious health condition, grand families often become primary caregivers. Though supportive, many are unprepared.

Census data indicate about 7.8 million children in the United States are living in households headed by a grandparent or other relative; 5.8 million children live in grandparent homes alone. Particularly in the case of grandparents caring for children with mental health issues, an analysis of this emerging trend reveals both a crisis of support and an opportunity to serve the unmet needs of these aging caregivers.

From a positive perspective, nurturing grandparents allow children to flourish by:

1. Enabling siblings to stay together.

2. Allowing children to stay in contact with family members.

3. Reducing the number of out of home placements.

4. Stabilizing care.

5. Raising children who thrive in a more loving environment.

On the other hand, the care of young children experiencing mental health challenges is particularly intense and physically demanding. Grandparents may experience frustration of shame or guilt about their own child’s inability to care for the grandchild. Stress-related conditions such as depression and hypertension are not uncommon. Family relationships can be strained and custody disputes may aggravate the situation. In addition, when grandparents assume responsibility for young children unexpectedly, they may face increased strain because of low or limited incomes. For example, with 70 percent of grandparents under the age of 60, many are too young to qualify for Medicare, Social Security and other public benefits available to seniors.

So, how do we help these heroes of hope? Grand families need time out from the physical, mental and emotional demands of daily care-giving. Respite care provides temporary relief for caregivers from the ongoing responsibility of caring for an individual, children in this case, with special needs. It is important to note that respite care is not child care. Respite care is an opportunity to re-energize and refuel to meet unrelenting challenges. With quality respite care, grandparents have time to participate in support groups, obtain services so families can function effectively, or secure health services that protect their ability to raise special needs children.

In December 2006, Congress passed, and the president signed, the Lifespan Respite Care Act.

It is up to Congress to continue providing funding each year. On the state level, we must engage the participation of grand families in the design and implementation of respite care programs. Not only should grand families become a targeted group for respite care but they should also be intricately involved in the development and implementation of these programs.

Grand families can access a treasure trove of resources at the Grand Families State Law and Policy Resource Center: www.grandfamilies.org. Also, to find a respite program in your area, contact the National Respite Locator: 919-490-5577 x233, or the California Respite Association at 707-644-4491: www.calrespite.org.

Remember these words during your silent moments of reflection: There’s probably silver in your hair, but it’s the gold in your heart that we love. Thanks grandma and grandpa!

I’d like to hear from readers at talkback@uacf4hope.org.

— Oscar Wright, Ph.D., is the CEO of United Advocates for Children and Families, a statewide nonprofit that provides support to parents, families, children and youth experiencing mental health challenges. Visit UACF at www.uacf4hope.org.

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Summer jobs: a scramble for spots, extra cash

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Arts Center gets a new look, thanks to Brooks

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Report details the face of hunger in Yolo County

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    ‘Monsters University’ to be screened in Central Park

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    California regulators approve PG&E rate hike

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    America’s ‘it’ school? Look west, Harvard

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: B3

     
    School board preps for new academic year

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

    The big moveout, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Sunder campaign will be at Farmers Market

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Classic car show slated in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Students can practice safe bike routes to junior highs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Public opinion sought about Nishi Gateway

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
    Davis Art Garage honored; bench dedication set

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Woodland historical award winners announced

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    .

    Forum

    Delta-friendly water bond is a win for all of California

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Bravo! The road diet works

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

    Support water bond in November

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Relay for Life team says thanks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    Crisp’s big hit helps A’s

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie QB Baty is back to pass … Touchdown, Tina! Tina?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    I’m not an ‘athlete’ but curling is hard

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1

     
    Hard hoops schedule features defending national champ at UCD

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD roundup: Aggie gymnasts are awesome at academics

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Sacramento scores early to snap skid

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

    Unplayable? Cubs, rain hand Giants a loss

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Features

    Food that travels well for cooking out

    By Julie Cross | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

     
    Visit Crawfish and Catfish Festival in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Artists invited to paint at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Goldberg, Milstein to play at Village Homes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    The voice on the CD comes alive at Music Together concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Crowd funding campaign offers support for Art Theater of Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Railroad museum will host Aberbach memorial

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6