According to the U.S. Census, in Federal Fiscal Year 2000 more than 2.4 million grandparents were responsible for raising their grandchildren.
While the vast majority of these arrangements occur outside the realm of governmental agencies, some grandparents and older kin find themselves in the unique and often unexpected situation of raising their grandchildren after a child welfare agency becomes involved. In Pennsylvania, grandparents who assume care of their grandchildren because of a dependency court action, are required to become licensed foster care providers.
Additionally, agencies and courts work closely with grandparent caregivers to ensure safety and permanency for the children. Usually, the initial permanency plan involves safely reunifying the children with one or both of their parents. Grandparent caregivers will be asked to assist in not only caring for the children, but also helping meet the reunification goal. If parents are unable to resolve the concerns that brought them to the courts attention, grandparent caretakers will be asked to assist in creating a permanent plan for their grandchildren. The most permanent of these is include adoption or legal guardianship.
Raising grandchildren can be challenging under any circumstances, but even more so when the underlying reason is the inability of the child's parents to provide a safe home environment. Additionally, having governmental agencies and the courts involved may seem overwhelming at times. However, the child welfare professionals and courts are there to help ensure that your grandchildren are safe and that they, you, and their parents are offered needed services.
Whatever the circumstances were that led to your assuming care of your grandchildren, there are many services available for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. These include support groups for grandparents and children; Grandparents Rights Groups and agencies that serve grandparents. The following links may be helpful.