Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



During the past decade, there has been increased awareness of issues facing grandparent caregiver families on the part of policymakers and service providers. This awareness has prompted efforts to document the numbers of children being raised by grandparents, to identify challenges faced by grandparents raising grandchildren, and to provide services to meet the needs of these families. National estimates suggest that the numbers of grandparent caregiver families are increasing. Recent estimates suggest that 1.4 million (2%) of all children under 18 live in “skipped generation” families in the United States; similarly, 29,000 (nearly 2%) of all children in Massachusetts live in grandparent care. A large majority of grandparent caregivers are responsible for grandchildren three years or more, suggesting that this is a sustained commitment.

Grandparent caregiving is a social phenomenon that cuts across all socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic groups. However, a substantial number of grandparent caregiver families face economic hardship; in Massachusetts, a third of grandparent caregiving families and half the grandchildren in grandparent care families have incomes below 133% the federal poverty index. These nontraditional families face many challenges, including healthcare, income security, education, social support, and housing. Public and private partnerships are beginning to respond to some of these challenges. An initiative to provide affordable, supportive housing for grandparent caregiver families was undertaken in 1998. The current report, based on the first four years of the initiative, builds on an earlier study based on the initial six months. It presents the experiences and views of families and front-line staff, as well as reflections from those responsible for its development. Recommendations are presented for future efforts to address supportive housing for grandparent caregiver families.



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