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Providing Effective Services to Grandparent-Headed Families in the United States

Providing Effective Services to Grandparent-Headed Families in the United States

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Providing Effective Services to Grandparent-Headed Families in the United States

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  1. Providing Effective Services to Grandparent-Headed Families in the United States October 17, 2013 Dr. Andrea B. Smith Western Michigan University

  2. Foster Care and Kinship Care in the U.S. • Foster Care and Kinship (Relative) Care are not the same • Foster Care is a formalizedrelationship • Foster Care services are administered by each state • Legal steps are taken to place and/or keep children in a foster care setting after the courts have determined that the child’s home environment is unsafe • Kinship Care may be a formal or an informal relationship • The informal/formal nature of the relationship may change over time

  3. Foster Care and Kinship Care in the U.S. • Foster Care is intended to be a temporary situation • Despite improved care, many children still stay too long in the foster care system and are often moved among various settings • 408,425 children were placed foster care settings (foster family homes, group homes, child care institutions) during Fiscal Year 2010 (Adoption and Foster Care Reporting and Analysis System (AFCRAS) • This number represents a 26% decrease since 2000 (AFCRAS)

  4. Foster Care and Kinship Care in the U.S 2008 Legislation—Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (P.L. 110-151) is intended to “achieve better outcomes for children who are at risk of entering or have spent time in foster care”. • Improves educational and health care services for children and youth in foster care settings • Extends federal support for youth to age 21 (can lead to increased educational/vocational options)

  5. Kinship Care Families in the United States • Kinship Care families fall into two general categories: • Multi-generational households contain at least 3 generations (grandparent, adult child, grandchildren • These households are often formed for financial reasons but also may arise due to divorce, adolescent parents, or a general desire of the grandparent to be of assistance to the family • Top reasons cited in 2010 were: • unemployment/under employment • health care costs • home foreclosure

  6. Kinship Care/Grandparent-Headed Families in the United States • Skipped Generation Families include only grandparents and grandchildren residing in the same household • These families often arise due to: • Parental substance abuse issues • Divorce or relationship break-up • Incarceration • Mental illness • Physical illness • Death of a parent • Military deployment • Neglect/abuse

  7. Less Involved More Involved Formation of the Grandparent-Grandchild Family Structure Substantial Support Parental Apprentice Parental Replacement

  8. Formation of the Grandparent-Grandchild Family Structure The majority of grandparent-headed families fall within the Parental Apprentice or Substantial Support Categories Parental Replacement is less common and typically occurs only after an extended period of time

  9. Kinship Care Families in the United States • 2010 Census Data show that 7.8 million children lived in a home headed by a grandparent or other relative • 2.7 million (about 4% of all American children) are being raised in grandparent or other relative-headed families • Children living in kinship care homes comprise about 25% of all children in the formalized foster care system • For every one child in foster care, 25 children are being raised in a kinship care home that falls outside the formalized foster care system • Grandparents, as opposed to other relatives, are overwhelmingly the main kinship care providers

  10. Grandparent Headed Families in the United States • 60% of grandparents raising grandchildren are employed outside the home • 21% of custodial grandparents live below the federal poverty level • 67% are under the age of 60. • Median age ranges from 54-57 years

  11. Grandparent-Headed Families in the United States • Numbers of Grandparent-Headed Families Vary by Ethnicity • There are more White Grandparent-Headed Families but proportionally children of color are more likely to live in a kinship care home • White: 51% • African American: 24% • Hispanic/Latino: 18.7% • Asian: 2.9% • American Indian/Alaskan Native: 2% • Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian: 0.3%

  12. Length of Time Caring for Grandchildren

  13. Challenges for Grandparents • Lifestyle changes • Medical care • Lack of support • Negative feelings • Family dynamics • Employment issues • Conflicting roles • Financial Issues • School routines • Housing • Changes in parenting practices • Nutrition • Transportation • Loss of grandparent role • Relationship to adult child

  14. Strengths • Grandchildren are safe and nurtured • Family history • Intact sibling groups intact • Feeling needed and useful • Increased energy • Circumventing the court system • Provision of second chance • Love

  15. Children in Grandparent-Headed Families • 1 of 7 children living in a grandparent-headed home has a documented disability, compared to 1 of 16 in parent maintained homes • Approximately 34% of children in grandparent-headed homes are living with a caregiver who does not have a high school diploma, compared to 12% of children living in a parent-maintained home • This correlates with data showing that children living in poor families are more likely to have parents/caregivers with lower levels of education

  16. Children in Grandparent-Headed Homes • Research shows that children living in custodial grandparent homes have increased levels of emotional and behavioral problems • Boys are more likely than girls to be recognized for emotional issues. Behaviors frequently include misconduct and acting out physically toward others. • Girls more frequently internalize emotional issues. Anxiety and depression are common.

  17. Teens in Grandparent-Headed Homes • 42% of children in grandparent-headed families are between the ages of 12-17 • Teens in the care of grandparents have increased academic, social and behavioral problems when compared to other teens • Aging grandparents often struggle with monitoring teens’ activities and setting and maintaining appropriate limits • Adolescents are struggling to establish their own identities; parental absence may be keenly felt during this time and may lead to a variety of emotional and/or behavioral challenges

  18. Young Children in Grandparent-Headed Homes • Young children (ages 2-6) often have difficulties in forming attachments, have low self-esteem, poor socialization skills and may have physical, cognitive or emotional impairments (Smith & Dannison, 2008) • This may result from prenatal exposure to drugs and/or alcohol, from inconsistent and often chaotic early home environments, or from lack of exposure to a variety of stimulating early interactions

  19. Emotional Themes in Children Living in Grandparent-Headed Homes • Common emotional themes are seen in children of all ages who live in grandparent-headed homes. These include: • Grief • Fear • Guilt • Embarrassment • Anger

  20. Grief and Loss • Loss of a parent • Loss of a grandparent • Additional losses may include: • Loss of home • Loss of friends • Loss of school environment • Loss of routine

  21. Fear • Inconsistency in early environment • Basic needs unmet • Inappropriate attachments • Lack of structure and predictability throughout life • Issues with trust • Difficulties with separation • Often need for individual attention

  22. Guilt • Internalize parents’ desertion • Sense of betrayal • Low self-worth • Familiarity with failure/children may “give up” • Feelings of responsibility • May lead to difficulties (ie: indebtedness, anger, indifference)in relationship with grandparent

  23. Embarrassment • Sensitivity about living situation • “Generation Gap” issues • Unrealistic hopes for parental return • Low self esteem • Testing and acting out behaviors in home, school and other social settings • Children may work hard to “fit in”

  24. Anger • No control over circumstances • Feelings of unworthiness • Many targets • Unpredictable episodes or episodes tied to specific triggers

  25. Programming for Grandparent-Headed Families in the U.S. • Great variety exists related to programs and services for grandparent-headed family members • These programs/services often vary in content, format, intensity, and duration • Geographic and ethnic diversity within the U.S. means that there is no “one size fits all approach” • Extremely important to recognize differences between communities and to build on existing programs and resources

  26. Programming for Grandparent-Headed Families in the U.S. • Highlight four diverse programs serving Grandparent-Headed Families • Second Time Around: Services for Grandparents and Grandchildren, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI • Project Healthy Grandparents—Georgia State University, Atlanta GA • Relatives as Parents—Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Albany NY • Kinship Care Program—Jewish Board of Child and Family Services, Brooklyn NY

  27. Second Time Around: Meeting the Needs of Custodial Grandparents Respite Parenting Skills and Knowledge Community Connections Support Advocacy Evaluation

  28. Second Time Around: Building a Grandparent Program Funding obtained/budget Open houses/personal contact Location, dates, times Services offered Marketing and recruitment Transportation Child Care Incentives

  29. Organizing Support Groups Adult Education content Relevant topics Personal Sharing Selected Activities Guest Speakers Information on available services/resources Food/incentives

  30. Second Time Around: Lessons Learned About Facilitators Someone with whom the group identifies Must be heavily invested Resolves group behaviors Flexible Builds positive relationships Co-facilitators helpful

  31. Second Time Around: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Session Topics: • Understanding Your “Not So New” Role • Promoting Personal Well Being • Refining Parenting Skills • Building Relationships • Working With School and Community • Managing Finances • Navigating the Legal System • Looking to the Future

  32. Second Time Around: Grand Ideas for Grand Kids • Structured play interactions • Modeling social skills • One-on-one attention (adult/child ratio) • Physical proximity • Immediate and consistent feedback • Small group size • Routine • Exposure to developmentally appropriate activities

  33. Second Time Around: Grand Ideas for Grand Kids--Session Topics • Enhancing Self Esteem • Appreciating Family Diversity • Enhancing Friendships • Appropriately Recognizing and Expressing Feelings: • Grief, fear, guilt, embarrassment, anger

  34. PROGRAM MODEL FOR GRANDPARENT RESOURCES SITES Kellogg Foundation Western Michigan University Agency Partner Local Advisory Committee Grandparent Support Groups Grand- children Groups In-service Education for Professionals Year 1 Continuation Groups In-Home Services Childcare Providers Training Year 2 Contemporary Grandparent Workshops School Readiness Mentors Year 3 Comprehensive Grandparent Centers Year 4 Required Activities Program Choices Year 5 Continuation of services and evaluation

  35. Grandparent Resource Site Locations Kalamazoo, MI Kendallville, IN Detroit Lakes, MN Mansfield, OH Washington, DC Winchester, TN Ocala, FL Nice, CA Flagstaff, AZ

  36. Campora Family Resource CenterWinchester, TN • Rural site—conservation “Bible-Belt” location • Housed in adult education center • Large group (40-50 members)/strong cohesion • Members frequently drove long distances (30-40 miles) to attend group sessions • Service oriented • Scholarships • Food pantry

  37. University of DC—ExtensionWashington DC • Largest urban extension site in U.S. • No prior history of service provision to kinship care family members—were quick to recruit and begin services • Located sites convenient to metro-stops • Relationship building—social isolation was common • Within own group • External to group (ie: exchange with Philadelphia and Baltimore groups) • Emphasis on advocacy/connections

  38. Robinson RancheriaNice, CA • Located on a rural Native American Indian Reservation/supported in part by on-site casino • Kinship care is culturally valued • On-site child care center • Challenges with isolation, transportation, finances, and substance abuse • Focus on respite—infrequent time away • Bingo • Field trips

  39. Kids Central, Inc.Ocala, Florida • 3 county district Human Services site • Largest numbers of kinship care families • Initiated part time employment of grandparent participants as group leaders/office workers/leadership from within • Initiated annual state-wide conference (2 days) on kinship care • Nationally recognized speakers • Attended by both professionals and kinship care providers • Diverse service delivery • Schools • Public libraries

  40. Mahube Community CouncilDetroit Lakes, Minnesota • Served grandparents/grandchildren in 7 locations within a large, rural area • Often involved facilitators traveling long distances to run groups • Worked to offset the challenges of long winters and geographic isolation—grandparents needed connections • Obtained additional grants to manage higher costs of food, fuel, and travel

  41. University of Arizona—ExtensionFlagstaff, Arizona Services offered within two adjacent counties Very diverse grandparent populations Worked to meet needs of both affluent and low socio-economic grandparent caregivers Provided comprehensive trainings for grandparent group facilitators Strong emphasis on continuation groups

  42. Michigan State University-ExtensionKalamazoo, MI Worked extensively with Advisory Committee to assess community needs and existing services Incorporated a Family Law attorney to provide pro bono legal services (identified as a high need area) Initiated Spanish-speaking group (Migrant/agricultural workers) Implemented in-home services--an effective service delivery method for their grandparent population (geographic/linguistic isolation)

  43. Northeast IN Grandparents Raising GrandchildrenKendallville, IN • Partnership between faith community and local school district in rural, NW Indiana • No prior history of service provision to kinship care family members • Within 3 months, had team established and trained • Offered both Tier 1 and Tier 2 services within the first year of establishment • Merged with larger, regional group to continue providing services to kinship care family members

  44. Lessons Learned: Second Time Around Program • Recruiting grandparent participants may be difficult/time consuming • Using trusted professionals (teachers, day care providers, nurses, doctors, etc.) to help recruit participants is helpful • Think through details that will make it easy for grandparents and grandchildren to attend sessions (transportation, child care, meals, location, timing) • Provide opportunities for grandparents to connect with one another and to share their stories

  45. Lessons Learned: Second Time Around Program • Build structure and consistency into each group session • Provide time to provide grandparents with feedback about the grandchildren’s session(s) • If appropriate, provide grandparents with resources (books, art materials, play materials/toys) to extend activities introduced in grandchildren’s groups • Provide positive feedback to grandparents. Acknowledge the important role they are playing in their grandchild(ren)’s live(s).

  46. Project Healthy Grandparent—Atlanta, GA • Affirm family and cultural strengths, • Enhance personal competencies through knowledge building and skill development, • Provide concrete supports as needed (food, clothing, furniture, toys, etc.), • Help families make necessary social connections, • Identify and use community resources to meet family needs, • Establish an evaluation strategy to inform practice.

  47. PROJECT HEALTHY GRANDPARENTS Goal -Empowerment “… the process of increasing personal, interpersonal, or political power so that individuals, families and communities can take action to improve their situation.” (L. Gutierrez, 1994, pg. 202)

  48. PHG: Family Characteristics • Total Participants • Grandparents served: 900+ • Grandchildren served: 1,800 • Race: African American (99%) • Average age of grandparents: 54 years; • (Range: 33-77 years) • Average number of grandchildren per family: 2.5; (Range 1- 8)

  49. PHG: SERVICE STRUCTURE • Social Work & Nursing Case Management • Individualized support • Acknowledge personal strengths • Home-based option • Support Group Meetings • Emphasize problem solving skills • Mutual aid and self-help • Provides setting for practicing new • behaviors

  50. PHG: SERVICE STRUCTURE • Parenting classes • Learn new parenting skills • Introduce new community resources • Emphasize positive functioning within family systems • Legal Referrals • Facilitate development of legal relationships with grandchildren • Establish permanency planning