Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What happens when substance abuse prevents parents from caring for their own children?

4.5 million children live in grandparent headed households in the United States.

Over the last 20 years this has been a 30% increase in grandparent headed households.

There are multiple reasons for this increase in grandparent headed households but the single biggest contributor is the substance abuse of the parent.

How do children do in what are called "kinship care" foster homes as compared to traditional foster care? In general, they do better in kinship care.

Here is a snippet from an abstract of a meta analysis of 62 studies that investigated this form of care.

Sixty two quasi-experimental studies were included in this review. Data suggest that children in kinship foster care experience better behavioral development, mental health functioning, and placement stability than do children in non-kinship foster care. Although there was no difference on reunification rates, children in non-kinship foster care were more likely to be adopted while children in kinship foster care were more likely to be in guardianship. Lastly, children in non-kinship foster care were more likely to utilize mental health services.

51% of GCASA's clients report that they are parents, but only 41% of GCASA's clients who have children living with them which means that 60% of the children of GCASA's clients are living elsewhere.

Another interesting fact is that 47% of GCASA's clients report that they, themselves, are the children of substance abusers.

GCASA offers support for grandparents raising their children's children. A support group meets on the first Monday of every month. For more information, contact Sue Hawley at 585-815-1872 or email Sue at

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

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