Although grandmothers across time and across the world play a meaningful role in the family, little is known about how best to support them. In the US in 2011, one in ten children lived with a grandparent; in nearly half, over 3 million children, the grandparent is the primary caregiver. The child’s parent also resides in the majority of these grandparent led families.
Grandparent caregivers are instrumental in the survival of these families, yet they face significant challenges. The parent of the grandchild is more likely to have given birth as a teen (44 vs 18%); under the age of 26 (31 vs 5%); unmarried (77 vs 31%); lack a high school diploma (29 vs 18%); and unemployed (21 vs 10%). Moreover, the grandparent caregivers are under 60 (54%), women (64%), married (59%), and poor (74% below or near the federal poverty line). Furthermore, ethnicity is a predictor of the role grandmothers play in families and the challenges. African American children are more likely to be living with a grandmother caregiver.
Grandmothers are in a unique role to support the health and development of their grandchildren—directly in childcare and indirectly in supporting the child’s parent. Therefore, this project will investigate how to best empower (information and support) grandmother caregivers to promote child nutrition, health, learning, and safety; and the grandmothers’ self-care especially health.