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NY Grandparents Getting Squeezed by Budget and Economy

June 22, 2011

NEW YORK - The depressed economy and steep cuts to kinship programs in New York have put the squeeze on thousands of grandparents who take care of children, grandchildren and their own parents.

The state budget sliced kinship programs from $2.75 million to $390,000, says Gerard Wallace, an attorney and executive director of the Long Island-based National Committee of Grandparents for Children's Rights, who adds that the cut is having a dramatic impact across the state.

"The bottom-line result was that we went from 21 programs to eight."

Most of the shuttered programs are upstate, but Wallace says thousands of families across the state have a more difficult time receiving information and referral, case management support and legal services. These kinship programs actually are money-savers, he says, because they keep children out of foster care, which is much more expensive.

More than 200,000 children in the state live in situations where a non-parent relative is the primary caregiver - and in many cases that's a grandparent. The stereotype of a grandparent being elderly is being shattered, Wallace says. The average age of becoming a grandparent in the United States is now 47.

"The average age for a kinship caregiver that is a grandparent caregiver is 56, and even that's quite young when you think about it."

That younger age means those same grandparents may be a caregiver for children, grandchildren and their own parents.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - NY