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Grandparents Doing More Parenting

Abandonment, incarceration, drugs, death, mental illness—these are some of the reasons four million American kids are no longer living with their parent(s). In more than 2.5 million families, this responsibility has been assumed by one or both grandparents. These "skipped generation households" have increased by more than 50 percent in the last 10 years. In almost one third of these families the parents are completely absent. In other cases, parents are occasionally present but are emotionally or financially incapable of taking care of their kids.

"Contrary to the stereotype of the inner-city welfare mom who's raising her teenage daughter's baby, the majority of grandparent caregivers are white, between the ages of 50 and 64, and live in non-metropolitan areas." There are more than 700 support groups nationwide that lobby government for legal rights and financial support for grandparent caregivers. Because their guardianship is often informal, grandparents also have problems getting medical care for the kids and enrolling them in school.

The first housing facility designed for grandparent-headed households opened in Boston in 1998. Twenty-six families now live in the home. Carl Bowman shares an apartment with his wife and 9- year-old grandson. "I don't know where we'd be without this place," he says. "We're all in the same boat here. We all help one another."

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