Grandparents struggling to care for children

The Press 10/09/2009

Some grandparents are going to bed hungry or visiting food banks to feed abused and neglected grandchildren in their care, a new study shows. Former Massey University social work lecturer and researcher Jill Worrall has studied how couples who have custody of their grandchildren are coping. Her research found almost 50 per cent of the 200 families surveyed were earning less than $29,000 a year and were struggling to pay their food and electricity bills. Some told of giving up much of their food for their growing grandchildren, not going to the doctor because they could not afford it and being physically abused by their young charges.

The report recommends giving grandparents with permanent custody access to free counselling and medical care for their often deeply disturbed charges, which would put them on more of an equal footing with the entitlements of Child, Youth and Family foster parents. Worrall, a trustee of the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren group, which commissioned the research, also recommends that the Government pay for more school-related costs, respite care and specialist training for elderly people earning under $30,000 and looking after their grandchildren.