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For many grandparents, raising another family wasn’t part of the plan. But they step up to the plate when their loved ones need them.

About 7.8 million children across the country live in households headed by grandparents or other relatives. About 2.5 million grandparents report they are responsible for their grandchildren’s needs. And in about a third of these homes, neither of the children’s parents are present.

For detailed state-by-state fact sheets on grandparents and other relatives raising children, visit Grandfacts. Each fact sheet contains data; key state and local programs and resources; public benefits; educational assistance; legal relationship options; and state laws. This valuable resource also represents a potential grantmaking opportunity. Major support for the GrandFacts State Fact Sheets was provided by The Brookdale Foundation Group, in partnership with Casey Family Programs with additional support from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Local foundations or individuals also supported several of the state fact sheets. For example, the Jockey Being Family Foundation, a private charity, supported the Wisconsin state fact sheet.

Generations United offers more information about the challenges grandparents face and programs that funders can support: Visit Grandfamilies; Housing; Education; Health; Legal; or Financial.

Grantmakers can help grandparents raising grandchildren in many ways—through funding services, affordable housing, and community programs that support grandparent caregivers. Below are just a few examples of programs that support grandparent caregivers that might interest grantmakers:

In California, more than 600,000 children and teens live in homes not headed by their parents. Grandparents as Parents is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that provides programs and services for grandparents and other relatives raising at-risk children in Southern California. The Eisner Foundation awarded a one-year, $60,000 grant for general operating support to provide mental health services, safety-net services, education, and child-focused advocacy to 3,500 kinship family members.

Kinship Care Resource Center in Clayton County, Georgia, provides services for grandparents and other relatives raising children in homes with no parent present. The center offers direct and referral services for adults, teens and youth, including case management, tutoring, financial and educational workshops, computer training, and day and overnight trips.

In New Mexico’s Rio Arriba County, a staggering 53 percent of children under the age of 6 were in the care of their grandparents in 2015. The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program provides support, resources, and discussion topics to foster the growth and well-being of grandparents who are the primary caregivers to their grandchildren in Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, and Taos counties in New Mexico. Las Cumbres Community Services launched the program in 2012 with support from Con Alma Health Foundation and the Northern New Mexico Health Grants Group, a joint initiative of Con Alma Health Foundation and the Los Alamos Medical Center Auxiliary. Recent support from the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District’s Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging helped the program expand. The program supports grandparents and grandchildren through services ranging from accessing information and resources about support services, to learning about living and coping methods to ensure they remain both physically and mentally healthy.

The Brookdale Foundation Group is a leader in funding programs for grandparents and other relatives serving as parents. Since launching the Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP) in 1996, the foundation has supported 68 local programs in 30 states, as well as 18 statewide initiatives. Funders can contact RAPP to learn more about local and state programs in their communities.

What to fund

  • Discussion and support groups
  • Information and referral services
  • Policy and advocacy efforts
  • Legal guidance
  • Physical and mental health services
  • Housing assistance and referrals
  • Group recreation and cultural activities
  • Respite care
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