In Ohio and throughout our nation, grandparents are increasingly being called upon to serve as parents to their grandchildren.

In early in 1998, the University of Cincinnati's Institute for Policy Research to 1998 conducted a statewide needs-assessment on grandparents raising grandchildren. The survey, involving 6,307 randomly selected households in Ohio, found that:

  • Grandparents Parents are filling the role of primary parents to their grandchildren in 10 percent of all Ohio households with children. According to 1990 census data 167,199 Ohio children live with the their grandparents In 32,340 Ohio households with children, the grandparent is the primary care givers

The institute conducted a statewide phone survey of 6,307 randomly selected Ohio householdsbetween Al April and July of 1998. In order to ascertain pertinent information related to special needs and concerns of grandparents raising grandchildren, the institute conducted in-depth phone interviews with 186 grand, parents raising grandchildren as identified in the initial phone survey.

Major findings the survey, in line with nationwide estimates, indicate:

  • Grandparents parents are involved with raising and providing most of the care for the children in 10 percent of Ohio households with children.
  • Only 11 percent of grandparents raising grandchildren are legal guardians for the children, just 9 percent have formal temporary custody.
  • Within the above-referenced 10 percent, one of four grandparents - roughly 32,340, statewide - is the sole provider for his/her grandchildren.
  • Reasons most often cited for grandparents assuming parental roles include the following conditions/problems related to the biological parents: substance abuse, divorce/separation; employment abandonment; teenage pregnancy; pursuit of education; finances; death; physical or mental illness/disability, homelessness, child abuse/neglect and incarceration.
  • The average care arrangement is approximately six years in duration.
  • The age of a grandparent raising a grandchild or grandchildren is 55, though 16 percent are age 65 or older.
  • Over half of the children cared for by grandparents are age 6 or younger.
  • Half of the grandparents provide care for more than one grandchild.
  • 87 percent cent of grandparents raising their grandchildren are female.
  • 43 percent cent of grandparents raising grandchildren are not currently married.
  • 51 per cent of grandparents raising grandchildren have annual household incomes below $30,000; 25 percent have annual household incomes of less than $15,000.
  • 9 percent of grandparents raising grandchildren receive child support, 14 percent receive financial support from public assistance, and 8 percent receive social security for the child.
  • 99 per cent of grandparents raising grandchildren have never participated in a grandparents support group; roughly 60 percent consider the availability of such groups and related counseling services important it.

According to the survey, major concerns of Ohio grandparents are related to their own finances and their grandchildren's education, safety and health coverage.

While grandparents express some concern about their own health and finances, the overwhelming majority display a touching altruism, saying that they are far more concerned with the health and overall well-being of 'the grandchildren they are raising. Their specific worries and concerns most often pertain to the education , health coverage and overall safety of their grandchildren.

Due to a continuing shift in traditional family structure, grandparents now provide care for grandchildren in roughly 10 percent of Ohio households with children. As this issue has become of mounting co concern to those throughout our state and nationwide, the need to formally address the matter has become increasingly crucial.

Ohio is taking steps to formally recognize the grandparents as the parental authority where the grandparent has the primary parenting responsibility, thereby granting them easier access to the public benefits and support systems available to biological parents and non-related foster parents in this state.