- Journal of Gerontological Nursing
- June 2012 - Volume 38 · Issue 6: 18-22
In the United States, the majority of custodial grandparents are raising their grandchildren without a legal relationship. The lack of a legal relationship (i.e., foster care, custody, adoption) is a barrier for obtaining services and has resulted in limited access to information and public services, inadequate financial assistance, and difficulty providing medical and educational consent. This situation arises not only as a consequence of eligibility criteria, but also because children being raised by custodial grandparents remain outside the child welfare system. Federal and state policies were not designed for this population; subsequently, the majority of grandparent caregivers remain without access to services and support. In this article, perceptions of custodial grandparents concerning family obligations and the child welfare system as a barrier to pursuing a legal relationship are reviewed. Challenges with existing financial and health services, educational needs of grandparents and providers, and suggestions for policy changes are presented.
Ms. Van Etten is Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, and Dr. Gautam is Lecturer, Department of Nursing, School of Health and Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, Massachusetts.
The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.
Address correspondence to Deborah Van Etten, MS, GNP-BC, PMHCNS-BC, Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, Department of Nursing, School of Health and Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 3 Solomont Way, Lowell, MA 01854; e-mail: Deborah_VanEtten@uml.edu.
Posted Online: May 18, 2012