Georgia grandparents step up as caregivers

Every September the Department of Human Services observes Kinship Care Month, celebrating the caregivers that step up to take over the full-time, substitute care of children whose parents are unable or unwilling to do so. Grandparents make up a major portion of these kinship caregivers in Georgia and the Department of Human Services has resources available to help them take on this added responsibility.

As of 2019, there were over 245,000 grandchildren under age 18 living with a grandparent caregiver in Georgia. These grandparents became caregivers after the loss of a child’s parent or an issue that prevented safe parenting for the child. In these difficult situations, many grandparents step up to the plate to ensure a safe environment for their grandchildren to grow.  

Project GRANDD (Grandparents Raising and Nurturing Dependents with Disabilities) is one resource that can help some grandparent caregivers. Founded in 2005 by the Innovative Solutions for Disadvantage and Disability (ISDD), it’s the only caregiver program in Georgia solely focused on the provision of supportive services to grandparents raising grandchildren or other relative children with developmental disabilities, chronic health conditions and learning and behavior disorders. The program is free, and resources include support groups, education and training, individual and family case management, home visits and more.

Georgia Grandparent Annie Jefferson participates in the program. She is currently raising her 10-year-old great-granddaughter and they enjoy reading, sewing and cooking together.

“Work is love made visible,” Jefferson said. “It is hard work to raise our grandchildren, but if there is love we will see the end result. Keep the faith. Share yourself like a flower shares its sweet fragrance.”  

Another Georgia grandparent that stepped in to raise her grandchildren is Pearl Lilly. She is currently raising her three grandchildren ages nine, seven and 11 months. She believes in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s outlook that states “when you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”  

As a member of the ISDD Leadership Committee, Lilly works with other caregivers to develop patience, friendship, respect, appreciation and an understanding for each other’s abilities. Both Jefferson and Lilly set great examples for other grandparent kinship caregivers.

For more information on resources for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, click here.