NZ Herald 7 September 2016
Family First Comment: The usual list of suspects – drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown……
“Drug addiction, domestic violence, family breakdown, neglect, struggling parents and alcohol abuse are the most common reasons children end up in their grandparent’s care.”
Terry Kopu has taken care of her great grandson since he was lifted from a home of drinking, violence and neglect when he was six weeks old.
Her story is similar to the majority of the 1350 grandparents surveyed by charitable trust Grandparents Raising Grandchildren who released a report today. Drug addiction, domestic violence, family breakdown, neglect, struggling parents and alcohol abuse are the most common reasons children end up in their grandparent’s care.
Researcher Liz Gordon said the grandparents and great-grandparents get huge love and joy from their grandchildren, but the costs are great.
The children are not easy children, there are often P babies, fetal alcohol babies, the victims of physical and sexual abuse, post-traumatic stress and other issues Gordon said.
“Unless they are reasonably well-off and have one, two or more spare bedrooms, the arrival of the grandchildren has immediate impacts on the family – not enough resources, not enough space. Some grandparents find themselves sleeping on their couch.”
The families vary greatly in ages from 35 to over 85. The report found most of the families are worse off financially as they drop work to take care of the child. Two-thirds of the families were on or below the poverty line and 74 per cent suffered from health issues Gordon said.
“The grandparents often face ongoing sacrifices to deal with the health and education needs of the children, all the time their own health may be getting worse, their retirement savings disappear and they have to give up work, change jobs or reduce hours to meet the needs of the children.”
CYFS have been very involved with many of these children, Gordon said, but grandparents have many criticisms of the organisation. Usually for urging the families to get custody, then closing the case and leaving very needy children without support.
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