More Children Being Raised by Grandparents

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Since the Start of the Great Recession, More Children Raised by Grandparents

Pew Research Center

The number of children living with their grandparents and whose grandparents are their primary caregivers – both slowly increasing throughout the 2000s – rose at a higher rate in 2007, coinciding with the recession, this study says.

Pew’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows that the number of children with grandparent caregivers rose from 2.5 million in 2000 to 2.9 million in 2008, a 16 percent increase, including a six percent increase between 2007 and 2008. The children with a primary caregiver grandparent – defined as the person responsible for most basic needs – account for 41 percent of the total number of young people who live with a grandparent, who in turn comprise 10 percent of U.S. children, according to the researchers. 

The largest increase from 2007 to 2008 was among white youth (nine percent), although the overall percentages are still higher among blacks and Hispanics. The study also found that most of the children still live with one or both parents, meaning that most of the households feature at least three generations.

Data about the grandparent caregivers show that most are low-income, with 18 percent living below the federal poverty level and 47 percent at one-to-three times the poverty level; under age 60 (67 percent); female (62 percent) and married (66 percent).  

The study does not calculate how many of the grandparent caregivers are in kinship foster care arrangements. The most recent report from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, maintained by the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, shows that in fiscal 2009, about 24 percent of foster children (102,000 youths) lived in family foster homes. The data do not specify which relatives the children lived with.

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