chapter  5
26 Pages

Grand par ent-Pro vided Childcare for Fam i lies Rais ing Ele men tary School-Aged Chil dren with Disabilities

For several reasons, there has been growing interest in disability among school - children. First, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) focused national attention on children with disabilities, the impact of social organizations and physical structures on such basic activities as children with disabilities getting to school, and the potential for rehabilitation and enablement. Second, the increased number of infants with very low birth-weight and the dramatically improved survivorship of these children and other children with chronic medical conditions has increased the number of children with high risk of disability. Third, attention to such emergent childhood afflictions as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and better diagnosis of acute asthma has expanded the risk pool for children with disabilities. Fourth, the costs of continuing newly developed programs to support the healthy and productive development of children with disabilities have increased due to the expansion in the number of children eligible, availability of innovative new services, and increasing costs associated with each enrolled child. Despite growing interest in childhood disability and governmental recognition that it is time to better understand the well-being of the nation’s approximately 2.8 million schoolchildren with disabilities, there are still few national studies of childhood disability among schoolchildren (Brault, 2011). Though there are only a handful of studies, they show that (a) nearly all of these schoolchildren live with their parents and attend regular school; (b) a sizable proportion of all schoolchildren experience a disability, which could include some form of limitation in mobility, self-care, communication, or learning; and (c) research at the national level on the impact of childhood disabilities on family well-being and family organization is inadequate. One area that requires further research is the childcare arrangements before the schoolday starts or after it ends for schoolchildren with disabilities. Possibly,

out-of-school childcare for children with disabilities is unnecessary because their parents successfully schedule work hours around the hours of the schoolday. Or out-of-school childcare might not be utilized by these particular children because there are not enough programs to meet their special needs or because their parents would incur added out-of-pocket expenses for care. Or perhaps, as investigated here, disabilities among schoolchildren increased odds that grandparents are relied upon rather than school programs or market childcare providers. In any case, until now the care and supervision of schoolchildren with disabilities before or after school is still largely unknown. Thus, it is timely to use the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to explore the out-of-school childcare arrangements of schoolchildren with disabilities by family structure. My aim is to better grasp whether disabilities among schoolchildren lead families to rely more on grandparents than before-or after-school programs or market providers of childcare. SIPP data permitted examining the bond grandparents have with schoolchildren with disabilities and addressing questions such as (a) What were the patterns in childcare use among schoolchildren with disabilities, and do those patterns differ from schoolchildren without disabilities? (b) If grandparents are more likely to care for schoolchildren with disabilities outside of school hours, are the out-of-pocket costs lower while the hours of care longer? (c) Do characteristics of mothers of schoolchildren with disabilities using grandparent care differ from characteristics of other mothers? (d) Once the maternal labor force decision and factors related to out-of-school childcare choices are considered, do schoolchildren with disabilities still have a higher likelihood of receiving grandparent care rather than care from their parents? And finally, (e) Does grandparent care for schoolchildren differ by type of disability and family structure?