chapter  11
17 Pages

Orienting to the Positive: A Practice Framework for Grandparent Caregiving

The number of grandparents who are currently providing primary care for their grandchildren has been on the rise. At one time, relatively few grandparents had primary responsibility for raising their grandchildren; however in the early 1980s grandparenthood arrived as a research focus for developmental researchers, and the resulting literature indicates that there has been a massive increase in this phenomenon to the extent that approximately 5% of contemporary American children live with grandparents, and in about one third of

these cases neither biological parent is in the home (Conway, 1999). Additional data (Casper & Bryson, 1998) corroborate this trend and show that 3.9 million children were living with grandparents in 1997. According to the 2000 US Census, 4 million grandparent caregivers are caring for their grandchildren (Simmons & Dye, 2003). Although the US population has also grown since the 1980s, the intervening 30 years has nonetheless seen a relative increase from 3% to over 5% of all children. Increases have occurred in situations where the parent remains present as well as in those where the grandparent is the primary caregiver. Some combined households may reflect economic pressures, but situations where grandparents act as primary caregivers to their grandchildren represent the single greatest growth category between 1992 and 1997 (Casper & Bryson, 1998).