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Grandparents and their ever-changing caregiver roles

In Colorado and across the country, the role some grandparents play in their grandchildren's lives is changing. More and more, grandparents are now filling in as "mom and dad," and with that change there is an increasing number that face difficulties simply because they choose to raise their grandchildren.

One grandmother, 59, is in this situation right now. She is taking care of her three grandkids. She has had to make adjustments to make it work, but it's all worth it. She admits she's had a lot to learn, though, when it comes to keeping up with the youngsters in terms of technology. She even took a computer class through a support group especially for grandparents.

There are many hurdles that grandparents will face when raising their grandchildren. The legal needs of grandparents have not been properly addressed by the court system or legislators in many states. Many of the parents of the children have lost custody of their children due to drug or alcohol abuse. There may have been neglect or abuse of the children. Some grandparents have their grandkids full-time because of financial issues the parents are experiencing. However, in many cases, the grandparents have not been given legal guardianship of the children. This can cause problems, as without it, many grandparent-run households are not eligible for government assistance.

Many grandparents are living on a fixed income, such as from Social Security, pensions or other retirement funds. Only one-third qualify for government assistance. That means that while the grandparents should be enjoying their retirement years, they are left to wonder how to pay the bills that come with raising grandchildren.

There are legal avenues that grandparents can take when it comes to their grandchildren. Grandparents' rights groups have sprung up in Colorado and other parts of the country that offer guidance on what is needed for legal guardianship, government assistance and other important areas. Legal professionals who are experienced in family law issues can help explain what rights grandparents have and what steps can be taken to ensure those rights are protected.

Source: nwherald.com, "Grandparents take on changing role" Stephen Di Benedetto, Oct. 18, 2013

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