Ohio Family Story: From Grandparents to Grandfamily

This story captures the experiences of an Ohio grandfamily. Due to the sensitive nature of the story, the name Brenda will be used in place of the grandmother’s real name.

Forming Grandfamily 

A year ago, Brenda Moore and her husband were two 70+ empty nesters. They raised their adult sons and enjoyed day visits and overnight stays with their grandchildren. After receiving a call from Children’s Services, they were unexpectedly thrust into caring for three of their grandchildren. They had to quickly adjust to their new life as they began to raise a 1-year old, a middle school and high school grandchild.

“We had limited time….and we had to make arrangements for work,” Brenda said. 

Knowing What They Need 

Brenda and her husband knew that the first thing they needed to do was to provide a stable environment for their grandchildren. This required adjusting to their schedules while addressing grandchildren’s school schedule. Brenda’s grandchildren had changed schools often and their school attendance was not consistent. Despite the changes, once established as their caregiver, Brenda received many calls from educators who followed up on her grandchildren’s attendance and their situation.

 “Teachers began to call from other schools,” Brenda said. 

Brenda’s experience is similar to many grandfamilies. The unstable nature of guardianship presented her grandfamily with barriers related to a smooth transition of care. Brenda shared that because her grandchildren had moved so frequently, she received calls from several schools. She was able to establish a stable connection with her grandchildren’s previous teachers and bring her grandchildren’s school records up to date. Even though she is familiar with school processes and procedures, Brenda believes that school has changed tremendously. So, she collaborated with grandchildren’s new teachers, leveraged online resources and library material to support her grandchildren’s education.

  “They need to feel nurtured…They need to feel love and attention,” Brenda said. 

Brenda’s grandfamily has changed in the past year. Her school-aged grandchildren returned to their parents and she now has legal custody of her youngest grandchild. She did not anticipate the changes that her family experienced, but she is excited and elated to be able to give her grandchildren what they need. Based on her experience, she believes that grandparents have what it takes to step in when needed. She is confident that together grandparents and teachers can partner to address the behavioral and education needs of children who are raised in grandfamilies.

There are 100,000 or more grandparents in Ohio that are raising their grandchildren, many unexpectedly (Grandfamilies.org, 2017).

Click here for resources from AARP for grandparents raising their grandchildren!