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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / The Seven Ds /   Editorial List

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The Seven Ds

With Motherís Day around the corner (Hi, Mom!), I wanted to take a moment to thank another kind of parent who (as much as mothers) richly deserves our appreciation. These folks enliven each Fearless Caregiver Conference and I am honored by their attendance. I am talking about grandparent caregivers.
So many times, the causes for grandparent caregiving are attributed to what I call the Seven DsóDeath, Disease, Divorce, Disinterest, Depression, Dollars and Drugs. This past decade in particular has seen a marked rise in grandparents acting as parents across the board. Often, they are the first safety net for children who are abandoned and whose parents are deemed unfit due to drugs, alcohol, violence or mental illness. So often, the moms and dads of these kids aren't much more than babies themselves.

The AARP found the trend significant enough that it founded the Grandparent Information Center in 1993 to assist these caregivers, especially those in "skipped-generation" households where a grandparent is raising a grandchild with no parent in the home. Not only are they frequently dealing with a spouse, a parent or even their own healthcare challenges; but, worst of all, they are expected to fit into those elementary school desks once again for the parent teacher meetings!

Seriously though, the statistics are not encouraging. In a study appearing in a recent issue of the journal, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, grandparent and other kinship caregivers were less than half as likely as foster caregivers to receive any type of financial support, about four times less likely to receive any form of parent training, and seven times less likely to have peer support groups or respite care. "Our findings indicate that kinship caregivers need greater support services," the researchers wrote in a news release from the publisher. "These findings suggest that increased supervision and monitoring of the kinship environment and increased caregiver support services are urgently needed to improve outcomes of children in kinship care," they added.

So, for those grandparent and kinship caregivers, we salute you and thank you for what you are doing for your loved ones. Now, follow your own advice and have some chocolate milk and take a nap. You deserve it.

Join us at an upcoming Fearless Caregiver Conference

Gary Barg

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