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Dec/Jan 2011Vol. 11, No. 10Supporting Grandfamilies Through Respite

The ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center has published Respite Services to Support Grandfamilies, which explains the unique challenges facing grandparents who serve as the primary caregivers for their grandchildren ("grandfamilies") and the benefits of and common barriers to respite care. Maintaining a support system through respite services has proven to reduce stress, improve family relationships, and make caregivers more effective in raising their children.

Grandparent caregivers may encounter a number of challenges after moving into a parenting role without gaining legal custody of the children. Some of these obstacles include not having the authority to consent to medical issues or access school information and difficulty in obtaining affordable housing when a larger house is needed for the new family. The cost of caring for the child or children can be another burden for grandfamilies: 70 percent of grandparents are under 60 years of age, making them too young to qualify for public benefits, such as Social Security and Medicare.

Respite services often are overlooked by grandfamilies due to lack of knowledge and understanding about what these services include. Determining how to inform grandfamilies about available respite services is important and can be done through local support groups for grandparents, family service agencies, religious institutions, and senior centers, to name a few. The factsheet includes a list of respite programs that provide support for the grandfamilies.

Written in collaboration with Generations United, the factsheet is available on the ARCH website: (235 KB)