“Grandfamilies” and going broke

A Census report caught my eye last week about the rise in grandparents raising their grandchildren. In 1970, about 3 percent of children were raised by the grannies and grandpas, but that’s doubled to 6 percent today.

That made me wonder about the financial issues facing those families. What happens to grandparents who suddenly take on raising their children’s children? What type of financial burdens do they face, especially as many are preparing to retire or are trying to save as much as they can to make that possible?

For many, the decision to raise their grandchildren comes at a huge financial price, I reported today for CBS MoneyWatch. In reporting the story, I heard anecdotes about grandparents spending their retirement savings to gain custody of their grandkids, or simply to afford the necessities (diapers, food, daycare) that comes with raising children.

Because these grandparents aren’t in the foster care system, they aren’t entitled to monthly payments that foster families receive. According to an advocacy group I interviewed, if even half the grandkids who are being raised by their grandparents entered the foster system, that would cost the U.S. more than $6 billion a year.

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