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LJWorld.com weblogs Notes from John

Darnell Jackson's Grandmother

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Darnell is receiving a lot of press due to the start of a stellar senior year on the basketball court. Part of this press is being reminded of how important his grandmother was to him and her sad death.Being part of a much older generation I had fewer grandparents and was only somewhat close to a grandmother who took care of me for a short time when my mother was hospitalized.Grandmothers may be more important today that ever before. The US Census reports that 32,582 Kansas children were living with a grandparent in 2006. For 21,278 of these children their grandparents are responsible for them. That is Census speak for they are raising their grandchildren.There are a host of reasons that children are being raised by their grandparents and the Census Bureau does not list them. Situations that I have been aware of include poverty, parental drug abuse and incarceration. These grandparents are providing a wonderful service for their children, grandchildren and the state regardless of the reason. The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) is the parent for many children needing an alternative home. During the last fiscal year SRS reports that there were 10,025 children in out of home placement. This is less than half as many children as the grandparents in Kansas are taking care of. SRS also places about 25% of children with relatives and it is likely that many of these relatives are grandparents. As taxpayers we pay for the care of the children in SRS custody. That is another reason to be grateful to those grandparents who have accepted the responsibility to raise their grandchildren. As anyone who has raised children knows it is not always easy juggling child care, jobs and other responsibilities and these grandparents face the same challenges. The more than 21,000 Kansas children in grandparent households were cared for by 19,000 grandparents. Most are relatively young with 17,000 between the ages of 30 and 59 and 13,000 are in the labor force. In other words these are grandparents with lots of other responsibilities and they still took on the task of taking care of the next generation of their family.If you know of a grandparent raising a child, thank her or him.

Comments

Alia Ahmed 6 years, 11 months ago

John, Thank you for a very nice story and the statistics about how often grandparents are stepping up to the plate when parents aren't able to care for their own children adequately. Grandparents are important whether they serve in a more tranditional role or as primary caregivers. Grandkids are pretty darn fun, too!

Ronda Miller 6 years, 11 months ago

Once again, this is an insightful and important article. I say that in part because I was raised by my grandparents from the age of seven on - actually, adopted by them..

Over the past twenty years I have witnessed the number of children being cared for by grandmothers increase as the breakdown of the American family takes place. It used to be rare for me to care for one child from a divorce situation, and now it is more the norm.

I don't believe that it is saving the tax payers money, however. It is my understanding that SRS pays the grandparents as they would anyone else caring for the child.

Thank you for an article that reminds us how important extended family is in all of our lives. Grandparents teach values, morals, traditions, religion, heritage that single parents may not have the time to teach.

On a more personal note, I know a family where the grandparents take all the children of the family each Weds. and keep them overnight. They do special things with the children: roast hotdogs and make s'mores over a campfire, treehouse play, tire swings, etc. They call their special day, "marshmellow day".

In a time where our society often seems too busy for children, it is refreshing to see families who are doing such a wonderful job. We all need grandparents and marshmellow days.

Marlo Angell 6 years, 11 months ago

Wonderful post. My mother in law works for SRS and helps out with programs for grandparents raising grandchildren. There are some wonderful services out there for those who need help caring for their childrens' children.

By Kansas law, if you fall under certain income brackets, you can receive financial assistance for caring for your grandchildren.

Check out this link http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/may/24/governor_signs_bill_providing_financial_aid_grandp/?kansas_legislature

Jerry Elliott 6 years, 11 months ago

john--very interesting post, full of data and insights. thanks for sharing. jerry

kansassportsnutgal 6 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for the nice article! I was blessed with wonderful Grandparents on both sides of my family so I know how wonderful having your Grandparents around can be! Darnell touches me with his tender heart for those he loves!
Blessings!

Jeannie Merritt 6 years, 11 months ago

I grew up in the country with hardworking parents, 6 siblings, and always "Farmer Grandpa" around. My parents invited him to live with them when they married, as he was a widow with only 1 child, my mother. Farmer Grandpa slept with my brothers and was the 1st one up in the mornings. I can still smell the bacon and eggs he cooked at 5:30. He worked from sun up till sun down, beginning with milking in the dark; he wore an old straw hat to to shield the summer sun. He shared the candy he purchased on his Saturday trip to town with us 7 children. The memory of this quaint old man warms my heart. I hope my grandchildren will remember me as fondly.
Now...about my grandchildren: I love the quote "if I had known grandchildren were so much fun I'd have had them first!"

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