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Grandparents Raising Grandchildren in the District of Columbia: Focus Group Report

During 2003, AARP District of Columbia and Dr. Sandra Crewe, Ph.D. of Howard University's School of Social Work collaborated on a series of focus groups to gain a clearer understanding of the many issues faced by grandparent caregivers in the nation's capitol. Four groups were convened between June 17 and 27, 2003 to explore key issues such as health, mental health, financial, employment, education, legal, and housing in detail.

Among the key findings from the focus sessions:

  • Many grandparent caregivers experience higher than normal stress levels. Support groups and respite services have been helpful in reducing the negative influence of stress.
  • The financial demands of raising their grandchildren are the most distressing for grandparents. The inequity between financial assistance for foster parents and grandparent caregivers often exacerbates their already precarious financial situation.
  • Many grandparent caregivers, some who have previously retired, find that they are forced to re-enter the job market.
  • Assuming responsibility for their grandchildren results in inadequate living space for many, especially those in public housing.
  • Stress, age-related health changes, and the emotional turmoil that led to the caregiving arrangement result in numerous physical and mental health problems for both grandparent caregivers and their grandchildren.
  • Many face numerous educational challenges; two in five of their grandchildren have special needs.

The report was prepared by Anita Stowell-Ritter of AARP Knowledge Management who may be contacted for further information at 202/434-6205. (54 pages)

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