The Current Grandparent Dilemma – Especially in Black Households

Paul Hubbard

By Paul Hubbard
Guest Column

Many African American grandparents have dreamed of retirement and planned well for their retirement. However, some African American grandparents are summoned for the unexpected role of becoming a child caregiver long after they thought those years were behind them. They illustrate a social trend in America: the high number of “grand families”-grandparents raising grandchildren.

United States’ census data shows that 7.1 million American grandparents are living with their grandchildren under the age of 18. Some 2.3 millions of those grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren.

About a third of grandchildren living with grandparents who are responsible for them are younger than six years according to AARP. I am sure the percentage is higher for African American grandparents. About half of the grandparents who are responsible for their grandchildren are 60 and over, according to census data.

The crises spike that have created this grandparent’s care-giving situation are COVID-19, substance abuse, incarceration, death of a parent and child abuse.

“Tragically, at least 140,000 children were orphaned by the pandemic and are now living with grandparents or next of kin,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) in a statement before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on aging which he chairs.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told AARP that the American opioid problem greatly increased the pressure on grandparents to take over the responsibility for grandchildren.

Financial strains are a problem for some of these grandparent children-care givers. Childcare, beds, Pampers, food, pocket money for the kids, medical care, etc. are the reasons for some of the financial problems. According to Generations’ United, about 18 percent of U.S. grandparents responsible for their grandchildren live in poverty.

This number is a lot higher for African American grandparents’ caregiving for their grandkids. A quarter or more of these African American grandparents have disabilities.

African American grandparent who are their grandchildren caregivers need support of all types; as they bridge generational support as care givers to the grandkids.

Paul L. Hubbard, M.S.W. “a Senior Moment” Comfort Care Adult Day Care Services.