State Program Helps Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

                      As Illinois observed Grandparents Day on Sunday, September 11, the

                      Illinois Department of Aging is reminding families

                      about a program to help grandparents who are raising

                      their grandchildren.  The Grandparents Raising

                      Grandchildren (GRG) program helps assist and promote

                      awareness of older caregivers and other relatives who

                      are helping raise their family’s children.

                      More than 200,000 Illinois children live in

                      grandparent-headed homes, and the number of

                      grandparents serving as “primary caregivers” is

                      increasing.  A primary caregiver grandparent is

                      anyone who lives with and is responsible for most of

                      the basic needs of their grandchildren under the age

                      of 18.

                      ”These special grandparents are often unaware of the

                      resources to assist them in providing a stable

                      environment to raise their grandchildren,” said

                      Michael Gelder, acting director of the Illinois

                      Department on Aging.  “It’s an important decision to

                      take on the role as primary caregivers for their

                      grandchildren when the parents are unable to.  These

                      grandparents need to know there’s somewhere to turn

                      for help during this additional round of parenthood.

                      The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program

                      provides support services, and in some cases

                      financial assistance for emergencies,” said Gelder.

                      The Department on Aging awards grants to

                      not-for-profit organizations through GRG to provide

                      referral services to local resources to help

                      grandparents.  GRG offers help during emergencies

                      such as financial assistance for utility bills,

                      medications, food and clothing.  Grandparents may get

                      legal assistance to secure guardianship and establish

                      custody back up plans when the grandparents are no

                      longer able to provide care; therapeutic help for

                      children who have lost a parent or significant

                      caregiver through death, divorce or abandonment;

                      mentoring; counseling, respite care and advocacy.

                      Some advisory groups for grandparents raising

                      grandchildren (and kinship families) include:

                      Illinois Task Force on Grandparents and Other

                      Relatives Raising Children; Chicago Task Force on

                      Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children;

                      Southern Illinois Task Force on Grandparents and

                      Other Relatives Raising Children.  All meet

                      quarterly.

                      For more information about the Grandparents Raising

                      Grandchildren (and kinship) programs, including a

                      list of agencies offering services, visit

                      www.state.il.us/aging or call the Senior HelpLine at

                      800-252-8966 (for hearing impaired 888-206-1327.)