The Circle of Peace sculpture on the Needham Town Common features an inviting display of children playing ‘Ring Around the Rosie’/Photo by Douglas Flynn

There are as many caregiving situations as there are caregivers. While caring for a loved one requires love, dedication and plenty of support regardless of who you are caring for, the specific needs of caregivers can vary greatly depending on the age and health condition of the care recipient.

Caring for a grandchild presents a different array of challenges than caring for an older adult, but grandparents who are raising grandchildren can get support through the Family Caregiver Support Program and information and resources here at Caregiving MetroWest.

By the numbers

Across the United States, almost 7.8 million children under the age of 18 live in homes where the householders are grandparents or other non-parental relatives, according to the AARP’s “GrandFacts” national fact sheet. That’s 10.5 percent of all children under 18 in the U.S. as of the 2010 Census.

More than 2.5 million grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren living with them. More than a third of those have no parents of the children present in the home and almost 20 percent live in poverty.

In Massachusetts, AARP’s “GrandFacts” state fact sheet notes that 102,103 children under 18 live in homes where the householders are grandparents or other non-parental relatives. That’s 7.2 percent of the children in Massachsuetts.

Some 30,182 Massachusetts grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren living with them, with 31 percent having no parents of the children present in the home and 13 percent living in poverty.

Who is eligible?

The Massachusetts Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) provides support to family caregivers in a variety of situations. That includes grandparents raising their grandchildren. Here are some of the specific guidelines for who can qualify for support from the FCSP:

  • Grandparents and other relatives (not parents) 55 years of age and older providing care to children under the age of 18; and
  • Grandparents and other relatives (not parents) 55 years of age and older providing care to adults age 18-59 with disabilities.

How can the FCSP help grandparents raising grandchildren?

This no-cost program is available to help caregivers address their specific needs. Caregiver Specialists provide assessments of each caregiver’s unique situation, offer emotional support and supply information about resources to address the specific needs of each caregiver and the grandchildren they are raising.

Some of the issues a Caregiver Specialist can help provide information and resources for include:

Childcare and School Programs

Get help finding childcare, school systems and after school programs in your area as well as information on safety in a school or childcare setting.

Financial Issues and Public Assistance

Who do you call with financial issues or for public assistance information? Get help connecting you to the appropriate departments to assist you.

Legal Services and Referrals

Assuming the responsibility of raising a grandchild is usually accompanied by a variety of issues and concerns which may raise legal consideration. Get information about the organizations that can assist you.

Health and Insurance

There are many options in health care and health insurance for yourself as well as your grandchild; get help to know what is right for you.

Safety Inside and Outside of the Home

Learn suggestions on how to keep your family safe inside and outside of your home.

Counseling and Mental Health  

In some situations, children and grandparents can benefit from professional help in order to cope with a variety of emotions. Get help finding agencies that  provide support and guidance to reduce stress and improve well-being for you and your loved ones.

How do you contact the FCSPs serving MetroWest?

BayPath Elder Services, Inc.
Phone: 508-573-7239
Website: www.baypath.org/caregiver.html
MetroWest towns served: Ashland, Dover, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Marlborough, Natick, Northborough, Sherborn, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayland, Westborough

Tri-Valley, Inc.
Phone: 800-286-6640
Website: www.trivalleyinc.org/caregiver-support/
MetroWest towns served: Bellingham, Franklin, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford

HESSCO Elder Services
Phone: 781-784-4944
Website: hessco.org/caregiver-assistance/
MetroWest towns served: Medfield, Millis, Norfolk

Phone: 617-926-4100
Website: www.springwell.com/service/caregiver-support
MetroWest towns served: Needham, Wellesley

Related information and additional web resources

In 2008, then Governor Deval Patrick signed the Child Advocate bill into law, which included a provision for the creation of a permanent Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. That commission, in turn, has since developed a website with information for grandparents raising grandchildren in Massachusetts and a comprehensive resource guide for grandparents.

AARP also has an extensive “GrandFamilies Guide” for grandparents raising grandchildren with information on a wide array of issues and scenarios that grandparents could face when raising their grandchildren.

Further information can be found at HelpGuide.org, which offers a section devoted to “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: The Rewards and Challenges of Parenting the Second Time Around.”

Another source of information comes from the University of Florida IFAS Extension website, which features a section devoted to grandparents raising grandchildren with a series of articles covering a wide range of topics, including “A Crash Course in Child Development,” “Guidance and Discipline,” “Custody Options,” and “Understanding Reasons for Misbehavior.”