Although there has been some examination of the stresses and supports of grandmothers with primary or partial responsibility for raising grandchildren, there have been no comparisons between grandmothers in these two types of care giving situations. Longitudinal studies are lacking, and the few published cross-sectional studies have highlighted the difficulty in obtaining a sample from this population. (Musil, 1998)
There may be particular stressors and consequences of care giving for custodial grandmothers with primary responsibility that differ from those who live with the grandchild but do not assume primary responsibility for their care. For example, lack of reciprocal support by the middle generation, the need to care for multiple children (of multiple children), and conflict ridden relationships with the grandchild's parent(s) are likely to affect primary grandparent caregivers. Further, grandparents with primary responsibility have reported high degrees of role restriction, social isolation, and financial difficulty. Yet because the role of living-with grandparents is less clear-cut, they may in fact experience greater, or perhaps different, stresses. Given the number of grandchildren residing in multigenerational homes, examination of the stress and health of grandmothers with partial responsibility is also warranted. (Musil, 1998)
These stressor further prove that programs akin to that of the Kinship program (a program currently in place that is comparable to the legislation) are necessary tools for older adults caring for their grandchildren. The Kinship program offers various resources i.e. family support groups, Work First / temporary assistance for needy families, Medicaid coverage and services, child support, housing assistance, custody procedure and other legal services, respite services, and educational issues. These resources are pertinent to the success of families with grandparents as the head of household. Resources such as these and others will give grandparents opportunities that they have not been able to obtain through any other means as well as the chance that they may not know about resources like these exist. (Kinship pamphlet)
As in any issue, there are supports as well as opponents to the current legislation in question. Supporters of the legislation include the Democratic Party, aging groups, and AARP. On the other hand, the opponents to the legislation are the Republican Party and other groups and/or individuals that feel the money could be better appropriated. It is evident that there are sunset provisions concerning Assembly 3014. They are: 1.) the bill takes effect on the 90th day following enactment, 2.) Expires 2 years later, 3.) 6 months before expiration; DHS Commissioner reports to Legislature & Governor on effectiveness; presents recommendations for continuing the program and possibly expanding.
All of the information offered in this analysis support that the legislature is necessary and that the population is substantial enough to evoke a need for the programming. Another affirmation to this is the fact that various programs i.e. Kinship program have been effective in providing necessary tools to aid in the support of the new and growing family unit. The journal article utilized serves the purpose of further supporting that there are needs that are not being met, that in fact there are stressors in the family unit that may not have been fully assessed before. Results of the research conducted by Muslin reports that the research conducted was done in order to add to the developing knowledge base about the health, stress, coping, and supports of grandmothers involved with raising grandchildren and to examine whether differences exist between grandmothers who have primary responsibility for raising grandchildren and those who do not. Despite the limitation of a modestly sized convenience sample and the use of self-administered questionnaires, the results provide additional understanding of the situation of grandmothers involved with raising their grandchildren.
The problems faced by grandmothers who are primary caregivers have been the focus of interest in the lay and professional literature, while the circumstances of living-with" grandmothers who have partial responsibility are less apparent. In this study, there were no differences between grandmothers with primary and partial responsibilities in their psychosocial or self-assessed health, coping, or in the report of typical grand parenting stresses. Grandmothers who were not primary caregivers of their grandchildren did report significantly more support, which is consistent with having others to share the responsibility for care giving. These findings highlight the need for a variety of additional support s designed for grandmothers with primary care giving responsibilities. For example, instrumental resources, particularly financial support and daycare/respite services, have been recognized as a need by grandmother caregivers and by the health and social service professionals who work with them. This further supports the idea of how grandparents could benefit from resources that aid them in locating various types of financial support.
By discussing how Grandparent support groups have been established in some communities to begin to deal with deficits in the social networks of grandmothers who are primary caregivers. Also shows how another aspect offered by the legislation is a positive aspect that has already been proven effective. Many of the issues related to support have received limited attention to date and will require considerable work at the policy level. This is exactly what the current legislation attempts to do. There were differences in stresses related to the parenting aspects of the role such that grandmothers with primary responsibility reported greater overall parenting stress and greater difficulty in parent/child interactions.
Since grandmothers with primary responsibility are parent surrogates, such role-related stress might be expected. Many grandmothers with primary responsibility indicated feeling somewhat trapped and restricted in their lives, most likely reflecting real modifications in their lifestyle since they began care giving. Grandmothers with partial responsibility would be less likely to be affected by care giving in the same way. Some primary care grandmothers expressed dissatisfaction with the grandparent/grandchild relationship or think that the grandchild does not meet their expectations or both. These unrewarding and unbalanced exchanges between the generations may be potentially detrimental to the care-giving situation, as noted by the high percentage of grandmothers with parenting stress profiles suggestive of increased risk for loss of control by the grandmother. (Muslin, 1998)
Necessary change will only come when we as a society decide it is time to act. It is apparent that good ideas and concepts exist, especially considering the fact that the current legislation in question has been "around" the legislative track for the past eight years. The evidence is clear and quite concise. There are specific things that one looks for when developing legislation. First, what is the problem or need? A growing family unit of elderly head of household taking care of their grandchildren, without proper resources; Grandparents do not even have the same access to resources that are afforded to single parents, but they are holding the same single parent status. Second, how can the issue or problem be resolved? Develop legislation that will in turn provide resources to grandparents that will empower them in their parental position the second time around, while also providing opportunities to have legal options in regards to custody etc. Third, is there a significant enough population of grandparents to make a statement? In the case of New Jersey, the answer is absolutely, the percentage slightly over 50% of the total population of New Jersey.
The supporting evidence continues to be astounding however, it is evident by the fact that legislation has still not passed in eight years that there are enough people that do not believe that this particular problem has a need strong enough or worthy enough to be considered. There are individuals that believe programs will not be effective. However, this has already been denied by the effectiveness of the Kinship program, which proves that the programs are effective and quite necessary. Therefore, it leads one to wonder if it them becomes an issue of status. Considering the fact that most supporting data reports that most homes in which the grand parent is the are provider for grandchildren is predominant among minority groups. Regardless the numbers cannot be ignored.
Dressel, P. (1996). Grandparenting at century's end: An introduction to the issue. Generations, 20(1), 5-7. Retrieved September 25, 2006, from Academic Search Premier Database.
Dye, J.L. (2003). Annual Meeting of the American Statistical Association: Grandparents living with and providing care for grandchildren: A comparison of data from census 2000 and 2000 American community survey. San Francisco, CA.
Hayslip, B., Jr., & Kaminski, P.L. (2005). Grandparents raising their grandchildren: A review of the literature and suggestions for practice. The Gerontologist, 45(2), 262-269. Retrieved September 27, 2006, from Social Services Abstracts Database.
Landry-Meyer, L. & Newman, B.M. (2004). An exploration of the grandparent caregiver role. Journal of Family Issues, 25(8), 1005-1025. Retrieved September 27, 2006, from Sociological Abstracts Database.
Musil, C.M. (1998). Health, stress, coping, and social support in grandmother caregivers. Health Care for Women International, 19, 441-455. Retrieved September 25, 2006, from Academic Search Premier Database.
New Jersey State Legislature. (2006). Assembly 3014. Trenton, NJ.