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Kinship Care Eats Away at Senior Budgets

About 11,000 Idaho grandparents are raising their grandchildren, and according to the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force, many are having a tough time stretching food budgets. Credit: Pixabay.com.
About 11,000 Idaho grandparents are raising their grandchildren, and according to the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force, many are having a tough time stretching food budgets. Credit: Pixabay.com.
July 6, 2015

BOISE, Idaho – Retirement planning doesn't usually include preparing for the expenses of raising children – but that's the scenario for about 11,000 Idaho grandparents, according to the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force. Figures from the task force indicate 14 percent of those seniors are also living in poverty.

Jessica Gross, Relatives as Parents support group coordinator in Coeur d'Alene and North Idaho, says grandparents raising children often have to forgo their own basic needs to make ends meet.

"In a lot of cases, they're living on retirement or Social Security, or just straight disability," she says. "That is not going to cover basic costs for caring for a child."

While resources are available, Gross says they're not well-known and seniors are sometimes reluctant to seek help for reasons ranging from personal pride to fear the children will be taken away.

Kirsten Mann with the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force says proper nutrition is key to the health of children and seniors.

"It is quite shocking so many of our seniors are facing food insecurity and are living in poverty," says Mann. "These are seniors who are also happily raising their grandkids."

She adds it's not just grandparents stepping up to raise children when family members cannot. Aunts, uncles, cousins and close family friends are also helping, with an estimated 29,000 Idaho children being cared for by individuals other than their parents.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID