Love knows no bounds.
That is what we’ve witnessed time and again while working with the Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren over the past year. The grandparents on this committee have inspired us with their dedication to, their passion for, and their knowledge of the challenges and joys of raising grandchildren.
And on Grandparents Day—and really, every day—we honor these grandparents and all grandparents who give so much to their families, their communities, and our country as a whole.
Currently an estimated 2.7 million children live in grandfamily/kinship households without parents in the home. These families, formed out of love and necessity, can face daunting challenges when it comes to making sure the children in their care have the education, healthcare, and security they need to grow and thrive. They encounter bureaucracy, stigma, and legal contests along the way.
The Advisory Council was formed to address this. The official charge to the council, as laid out in the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act of 2018, is to identify, promote, coordinate, and disseminate information, resources, and best practices to help grandparents and older relative caregivers of children meet the health, educational, nutritional, and other needs of the children in their care.
Council members express this in the vision statement they issued earlier this year:
The Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (SGRG) will be a leader for identifying and sharing resources to support, educate, empower, and advocate for Kinship Families and Grandfamilies. The Council will increase awareness and understanding of the needs of these families to ensure they are treated with respect and dignity. By honoring cultures, values, and diversities, we will create a better future so that families can flourish.
The members recognize that every family is different and faces different challenges and impacts—but they share a common goal of a better life for the children in their care. That’s why they have adopted the blended term “Kinship Families and Grandfamilies” to refer to the families they represent. This term reflects the diversity of caregivers raising children today and includes not only grandparents raising grandchildren, but also families in which children are being raised by other extended family members or adults with whom they have close family-like relationships.
The council members bring incredible expertise, compassion, and energy to this work. They’ve been there on the frontlines, consulting with teachers, healthcare professionals, social workers, lawyers, and others to advocate for the children in their care. They know what others in their position have gone through, and they treat each other with great respect. They listen and learn from each other—and they’re eager to empower others with what they’ve learned.
They’re already making an impact. Earlier this year, they quickly recognized that the consequences of emergency situations, including natural disasters and pandemics, are magnified for Kinship Families and Grandfamilies. They responded with a resource guide especially for these families.
The Council will meet again next week to review and discuss the analysis of the more than 300 comments and suggestions they received in response to their request for information from the public on issues facing Kinship Families and Grandfamilies. They will also discuss and agree on the key recommendations they will make in their Report to Congress. We know they will approach these tasks with the same passion and thoughtfulness that they have each brought to their committee work so far—and the same care they give to their families.
And they will continue to show us again and again that love knows no bounds.
Happy Grandparents Day from ACL
Grandparents Day is this Sunday, September 13
By Lori Stalbaum, Alternate Designated Federal Official, Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren