Senior Life

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In honor of Grandparents Day, state praises grandparents raising grandchildren

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[September 07, 2013]  SPRINGFIELD -- In observance of Grandparents Day on Sunday, Illinois Department on Aging Director John K. Holton, Ph.D., offered support as he praised grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. A grandparent who lives with and is responsible for most of the basic needs of grandchildren ages 18 and younger is a primary caregiver. In Illinois, it's estimated that more than 100,000 grandparents are serving as the primary caregivers for their grandchildren when the parents are unable to.

"The decision by a grandparent to raise their grandchild can be a difficult one. And for those with limited resources, another round of parenting can pose further stress on the grandparent, whatever the circumstances. So, as we mark this Grandparents Day observance, I want to remind that there is help with the physical, emotional and financial stresses that accompany raising grandchildren," said Holton.

The occurrence of grandparents raising grandchildren or other child relatives is not new, but nationally the number of children being raised by people other than a parent has dramatically increased. Factors that contribute to more grandparents raising their grandchildren include drugs and alcohol abuse, health issues, death, divorce, and incarceration. In Illinois, there are more than 200,000 children who live in homes with grandparents serving as the primary caregivers.

The Department on Aging has a program called Grandparents Raising Grandchildren to help with efforts to locate, assist and promote awareness of grandparents of any age, as well as other relatives, who are currently raising their family's children. Created in 1996, the program offers numerous services that may help during difficult times. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren is a referral service to local resources, such as support groups and legal assistance. And in some cases the program provides emergency financial assistance for such needs as utility bills, medications, food and clothing.

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The Department on Aging awards grants to nonprofit organizations to fund initiatives addressing the needs of grandparents raising grandchildren. The grants fund local resources for services, such as legal assistance to secure guardianship, establish custody and backup 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; advocacy and mentoring; counseling; and respite care. For fiscal 2013, the department has awarded $300,000 in grants to 46 support groups.

For more information about Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, visit, or on weekdays call the Senior HelpLine at 800-252-8966 or 888-206-1327 for the hearing-impaired.

[Text from Illinois Department on Aging file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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