Until she lost her job last September, Wendy Nocar denied nothing to her granddaughter, Summer, whom she has raised since she was a baby. The blonde 6-year-old was plied with Barbie dolls, clothes, ballet lessons, trips to the mall, and outings to Broadway shows and her favorite restaurant, Red Lobster.Read the whole thing at the link.
These days, Ms. Nocar, 57, unable to land a job interview much less a job, is worried about stocking the refrigerator and paying her mortgage. She is also fearful of being unable to support Summer, who she says was born addicted to heroin, and who has been in her custody since infancy.
Summer is anxious about her grandmother's situation. "We don't have a lot of money," says the first-grader, whose pictures adorn the cluttered three-bedroom house she inhabits with her grandmother, two cats, a dog and a rabbit named Whiskers. "We need a lot of money; she has to get a job," Summer adds.
"She seems to understand a lot more than children do her age," Ms. Nocar says.
Today, more and more children are being raised by their grandparents. These grandparents provide a crucial safety net, allowing children whose parents can't provide for them to remain in families, instead of winding up as wards of the state. But as the recession hits "grandfamilies," that safety net is under stress.
The unemployment rate for older workers is lower than the overall rate. But once they become unemployed, older workers find it harder to land a job and they tend to remain out of work longer than younger workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for those 55 and over has been climbing significantly in recent months; in March, it rose to 6.2% -- the highest it has been since September, 1949, according the bureau.
At the same time, the number of grandfamilies has been growing. In 1970, about 3% of all children under 18 lived in households headed by a grandparent. By 2007, 4.7 million kids -- or 6.5% of American children -- were living in households headed by a grandparent, according to Census Bureau data. This shift was driven by a variety of factors, including more parents hit by drug use, AIDS or cancer, and the large numbers of single parents who, if struck by tragedy, leave children behind.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Here's an interesting story, from the Wall Street Journal, on the strains facing grandparents raising children amid the recession, "'Grandfamilies' Come Under Pressure":