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"The Impact of COVID-19 on Grandparents Caring for Grandchildren" - Linda Skogrand, Ph.D. | September 2020

Utah State University
Author of Marriages and Families, McGraw Hill


The number of grandparents raising their grandchildren has doubled in the U.S. since 1970 to now be approximately 2.3 million. Reasons children are being cared for by grandparents include such things as military deployment, joblessness, mental illness, and substance abuse (Henig, 2018, June 1). In the spring of 2020, a pandemic of COVID-19 hit the United States and has had a significant impact on these grandparents (Bahrampour & Schmidt, 2020, March 18). They are experiencing increased financial and emotional stress as well as health risks because of the virus.

Grandparents are taking on added responsibilities and costs since their grandchildren may be learning from home. They are now responsible for providing several meals a week while children are in their care, when these meals were formerly provided at school. In addition, they may need to help their grandchildren connect to technology and provide them with help with schoolwork for which they may be ill-prepared. Grandparents may also be employed and have to make decisions about working or staying home with grandchildren.

Grandparents may also have health conditions that make them vulnerable when it comes to contracting COVID-19. This creates concern for grandparents that they may contract the virus from their grandchildren whether they are learning from home or going to school. These grandparents may also worry about what will happen if they contract the virus and die, leaving their grandchildren without someone to care for them.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What increased stresses might grandchildren being cared for by grandparents experience during COVID 19?
  2. What services might schools provide to grandparents to make this time easier for children?
  3. What social services might be helpful to these families?

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REFERENCES

Bahrampour, T. & Schmidt, S. (2020, March 18). Millions of U.S. grandparents care for young kids—and are high risk for COVID-19. The Washington Post. Website: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/millions-of-us-grandparents-care-for-young-kids--and-are-high-risk-for-the-coronavirus/2020/03/18/6e91888c-6878-11ea-9923-57073adce27c_story.html

Henig, R. M. (2018, June 1). The age of grandparents is made of many tragedies. The Atlantic. Website: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/06/this-is-the-age-of-grandparents/561527/

 

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About the Author

Linda Skogrand is an assistant professor and family life extension specialist at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. She began her professional career as a social worker in the inner-city of St. Louis, Missouri, and throughout her career has enjoyed a balance between academic institutions and social service organizations. She has also taught family courses at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, for 17 years and was adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota for several years. She has published articles focusing on values in parent education, the lives of families who have experienced Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, transcendence of traumatic childhoods, spirituality, strong Latino marriages, and debt and marriage. She has co-authored several books including "Surviving and Transcending a Traumatic Childhood: The Dark Thread, Coping with Sudden Infant Death, and Sudden Infant Death: Enduring the Loss." Her current research focuses on strong marriages in the Latino and American Indian cultures and she is currently conducting a national study of what makes “great” marriages with John DeFrain.