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Ceremony Shines Spotlight on Kentucky’s Grandparent Caregivers

More than 95,000 children in Kentucky are cared for by their grandparents or other relatives, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. (bernardbodo/Adobe Stock)
More than 95,000 children in Kentucky are cared for by their grandparents or other relatives, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. (bernardbodo/Adobe Stock)
April 23, 2019

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Grandparents raising their grandchildren are being celebrated in Louisville today at the 18th Annual AARP Kentucky Grandparent of the Year ceremony, hosted by the Kentucky Retired Teacher's Association.

Danny Crunk, a retired Christian County resident raising his grandchild, is being recognized as the 2019 Grandparent of the Year. He was nominated by his grandson, fifth-grader Sebastian Dazey.

The surge in children being raised by their grandparents has largely been fueled by the opioid crisis. Yet resources and support for grandparent caregivers haven't caught up to demand.

Claude Tiller and his wife, Peggy, live in Pulaski County. Like Crunk, they are raising their grandson, who is 4-years-old.

"There are a lot of grandparents that are fighting as hard as they can to provide support to the grandchild,” Claud Tiller said. “But in many cases, the mother or the father or both don't acknowledge the current situation they're in, and as a result I think some grandparents just give up."

Claude said grandparents spend much of their time and money navigating the state's community-based services. One of the biggest problems Tiller sees is the high turnover rate among social workers. He said at least three social workers have been involved with his family's case.

Kentucky has the nation's highest rate of grandparents raising grandchildren. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 95,000 children in Kentucky are cared for by relatives.

Peggy Tiller said for her, the lack of child-care options available to grandparents means losing social interaction and missing out on other life activities.

"As a grandparent, you don't have a lot of the support that you would have if you were a young parent,” she said. “You know, you have something, you have an event you need to go to, you can ask your parents to take care of the child. We really don't have anyone to assist us with my grandson."

Peggy Tiller said she worries about what will happen to her grandson in the future. In 2018, the Trump administration passed the The Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, a law that creates a new Federal Advisory Council tasked with developing resources to help grandparent caregivers.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY