In the last 15 years, the number of children living with their grandparents has increased by 50 percent, according to the Brookdale Grandparent Caregiver Information Project based at the University of California at Berkeley Resource Center on Aging.
That means more grandparents helping grandchildren with schoolwork and raising them to boot.
Recently, the Hazelwood School District (HSD) hosted a workshop for grandparents who are the primary caregivers of their grandchildren.
The workshop, open to grandparents district-wide, was held at Hazelwood East Middle School and drew 28 individuals from the community, according to an HSD press release. The format was a mix-and-mingle dinner and group discussion.
Mary Beth Carpenter, a representative from the Missouri Department of Child Care Services, facilitated the group discussion, shared resources and answered questions from attendees.
One grandfather, who only wanted to be identified at by his last name of Brown said he didn’t know what to expect but was glad he attended and able to bond with people in a similar situations. He also said before the event his wife and he felt they were the "only grandparents facing challenges of raising their grandchildren, while trying to navigate through the legal guardianship process."
In fact, according an AARP survey, more than 31 percent of adults are grandparents. Of that number, 8 percent are providing day care on a regular basis, and 3 percent are rearing a grandchild.
Of the grandparents who maintain homes for their grandchildren, 55 percent of grandmothers and 47 percent of grandfathers are not yet age 55, according to an Ohio State University study on grandparents. Additionally, 19 percent of grandmothers and 15 percent of grandfathers are under age 45.
“I am currently working with HSD social workers to review the needs assessment surveys completed during this initial gathering,” said Audrey Wittenauer, HSD parent involvement coordinator in a press release. “The results will help to develop the frame work for future sessions."
Wittenauer said the overall goal is to reduce barriers to learning for HSD students.
"I look forward to partnering with the grandparents in our community, as well as assisting the grandchildren, whom they are raising," she said. "As I see it, our job as educators is to eliminate any barriers which may prevent our students from achieving academically."
The next Grandparents Raising Children workshop will take place on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m., at Hazelwood East Middle School. This event is also open to the public.