Frequently Asked Questions

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren - General Issues

General Issues

Who can I talk to that will understand where I'm at and what my situation really is like?

There are many community professionals who would be great resources with whom you could talk. Search out a counselor, caseworker, or therapist who specializes in grandfamilies or who has knowledge of grandfamily dynamics. Even if they do not specialize in grandfamilies, many family therapists will have some understanding of your situation. Support groups are another great option. Many communities have support groups for grandparent caregivers and other kinships caregivers. A list of support groups is provided on this website by selecting Support Groups option from the menu to the left of your screen. There are also community professionals who are often referred to as Kinship Systems Navigators or Directors of Kinship Units. These professionals usually work through your local department of Human Services or through local Area Agency on Aging.

I just gained physical custody of three children. My household is in crisis. Who can I contact for help?

Contact your local Department of Human Services or your local Area Agency on Aging to get connected with a Kinship Systems Navigator, a Kinship Unit, a caseworker, a therapist, or a counselor. These professionals are knowledgeable and competent in dealing with crisis situations. They can help you get connected to other programs, organizations, and support groups in your community.

How do grandchildren come to live with their grandparents?

The three main situations in which children come to live with their grandparents are self-initiated, family initiated, and agency initiated situations. These situations vary depending on who initiates children living with the grandparents.

In a self-initiated situation, the grandparent feels the children are not being properly taken care of and makes a call to the local Department of Human Services or Law Enforcement Office. Authorities are required to investigate the welfare of a child. Grandparents should also advise the authorities that they wish to keep the children with them. If law enforcement and/or social services is not involved, grandparents can initiate wishes to have the child live with them by contacting the parent or guardian and discuss custody, guardianship, and adoption options. It is best to do this with the help of an attorney.

In a family initiated situation, the parent or guardian of the child requests that the grandparent take temporary or permanent custody of the child. Legal agreements will need to be reached and it is helpful to have everything in writing. A helpful hint is that usually whoever gives the rights can also take it away. For example, if the parent gives temporary power of attorney, the parent can revoke it. If the court makes a decision, only the court can change that decision.

In an agency initiated situation, an outside agency approaches the grandparents about placing the child in the grandparent's home. It is important for the grandparent to know and understand what is being requested and what options exist before he/she commits to the grandchild's placement.

I feel like I am the only grandparent who is raising grandchildren. How many of us are there out there?

Data from the last census (1990 2000) estimates that approximately 4.5 million children under the age of 18 live with their grandparents nationwide. The number of custodial grandparents in Colorado increased by 73% compared to the national increase of 30% over the same 10 year time period. It is a very common emerging family pattern and one that is growing rapidly in the United States.

Does a grandparent have to be 60 years or older to be eligible to attend a support group?

No! Grandparents may be of ANY age to attend a support group. Most support groups for grandparents raising grandchildren around the state and country are open to any grandparent raising grandchildren, regardless of age.

How do I find a support group in my area?

A list of support groups is provided on this website by selecting Support Groups option from the menu to the left of your screen. You may also contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or your local Department of Human Services.