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Emmitsburg Community Center
300-A South Seton Ave.
Emmitsburg, MD 21727


Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Nancy Miller

According to the 2000 United States Census, 125,697 grandparents in Maryland are living in a household with one or more of their grandchildren under the age of 18, and 50,974 grandparents in Maryland are responsible for meeting their grandchildren's basic needs. Why is this happening? According to the AARP, grandparents are responding to problems in the middle generation, such as parent illness, divorce, incarceration, substance abuse, child abuse, or neglect, by stepping in to fill the gap created by the parents' problems. Most of these grandparents did not expect to take on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren and are financially and mentally unprepared, and physically pressed to keep up with the demands of parenting.

Many are called upon to raise their grandchildren alone, without the involvement of the parents. Where do these grandparents find the information and support they need? Two reliable resources are AARP, and each state's Department of Aging.

In Maryland, the Department of Aging website address is www.mdoa.state.md.us. Listed in the Site Map, under "Caregiving", are links to the Grandparents Resource Directory, and the Kinship Care Program. At the AARP's website, www.aarp.org/grandparents, an almost unlimited amount of information is available, including resources, booklists, a newsletter, fun, gifts, etc.

AARP's "Parenting Grandchildren" newsletter previously spotlighted a book titled, Second Time Around: Help for Grandparents Who Raise Their Children's Kids, by Joan Callander. It offers information and emotional support the author describes as a "tool kit" she put together from her years of experience. Amazon.com lists the book as currently out of print, with limited availability. Sylvie De Toledo and Deborah Edler Brown coauthored a book titled Grandparents as Parents: A Survival Guide for Raising a Second Family, that addresses personal feelings and concerns, as well as legal issues and support sources. This book is available through Amazon.com. Also, these and other helpful books may be found at local libraries.

An enormous amount of information is available through an Internet search, which will provide a list of websites for the parenting grandparent, from serious to fun sites like, "Off Our Rockers". If a computer is not available at home, local library staff will provide help with using the Internet from their computers.

Another resource of information and support is local crisis hotlines. They not only handle crisis situations, they maintain listings of local resources and referrals for grandparents and the grandchildren they are raising. Hotline numbers can be found in the front pages of the area's telephone books. Frederick County, Maryland's number is 301-662-2255.

G.A.P. (Grandparents as Parents) is a national organization with chapters operating throughout the country, working to change the laws that affect this growing group of grandparents. They offer legal advice and support and the opportunity to meet other grandparents in the same situation. Local chapters can be located via an Internet search or a phone call to the local Department of Aging.

Each Frederick County, Maryland's CASS (Community Agency School Services) office is another local resource that can offer information and referrals to grandparents of preschool and school age children. The Catoctin CASS telephone number is 301-447-3755. For contact information for the other Frederick County, Maryland, CASS offices, please see our Contact Us page.

Above all else, grandparents needing help with raising their grandchildren should feel comfortable contacting their local resources and agencies, knowing they are not alone, and that there are people who can help them be successful.