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Grandparents Matter�Home Visiting comes to Three Gen



One in 12 grandparents are raising their grandchildren overall in America. Much higher levels among lower-income families. Presentation shares the voice of these grandparents and identifies a series of science-informed, three-generation practices that would better support them.
Grandparents Matter
Home Visiting comes to Three Gen
6th Annual Home Visiting Summit
November 16, 2016
Janice M. Gruendel, Ph.D., M.Ed.
Senior Fellow, Institute for Child Success
We all have mental images of our own
“three generation” families.
Home for the holidays, all around the table…
Nana and Poppi there when the baby comes…
Family photos filled
from end to end
with smiling faces…
Dropping off the little ones
for a long weekend with
grammie and gramps…
And then we all go home, our kids safely in tow…
1 in 12
“Having my grandchildren move in was not planned, but it is
very rewarding and also crazy to manage at times
because kids nowadays are just very different
from how I grew up.”
Grandparents raising their grandchildren come in all shapes
and sizes, ages and races. They live in my community, and
“There is never enough money to make ends meet and pay
the monthly bills… If I didn’t get free diapers and formula, I
don’t think I could fulfill my duties as a grandmother. “
“There are too many programs and services that
for a short while or have waiting lists….”
“If I was a regular foster parent or an adoptive
parent, I could get a lot more help. Sometimes I
feel like a dumping ground.”
We call them kinship foster families,
informal child care, respite parents….
They connect with our services and systems
in ways may meet the systems’ needs
but may not meet their needs.
What if….
….we were committed to support grandparents raising
their grandchildren in ways that were BETTER
than the best we have done so far?
How can we be “science-informed”?
What would we do differently?
What policies do we need?
How could home visiting become our partner?
How can we learn to see and feel and know the
world through the eyes of our elders who have
taken on this extraordinary responsibility?
Science of
scarcity &
Science of adversity,
trauma & toxic stress
Neuroscience: Early brain development
Attachment, Serve and Return
Executive function & self-regulation skills for
children, youth & young adults
Science of health aging
Mindfulness, Empathy and joy
Science of
Internal and
external Protective
Science: Fidelity
to model
We must become “three-gen
Use the Science
Adopt a three-
generation ”theory of
change” informed by
both the science of
adversity and the
science of resilience
Teach gently about
“the new child
development” in a
way that honors
grandparents own
experiences as a
Learn about the
science of elderhood
Adapt medical home,
home visiting and
kinship care models
to meet the special
needs of elders
caring for young
Wrap Around the
Family Unit
Deliver community
supports and
services to the child
and grand parent
simultaneously as
well as individually,
and wrap them
around the family as
a whole.
Attend to social-
emotional realities
involving the grand
parent and birth parent
who has become “the
absent parent”
Commit to support over
a longer duration that
may, in fact, increase
as the grandparent ages
Focus on Strengths
and Resilience
Services and supports
quickly focus on
individual and family
strengths and assets,
including within the
extended family
Build on community
protective factors
including peer
Use music, art and
writing to give
“voice” to
grandparents and
foster connections
with their grand kids
Respect grandparents’
needs for peer time
and alone time
Build a Connected
Build new
partnerships within
the service sector,
Child care for
Mental health
services for adult
and child anxiety
and depression
Elder health
Public School
Child and adult
Real-time data
anchored in elder
and young
children /adolescent
We can make four sensible changes
“Perception is highly
personal, made from
our life experiences
and our
It’s almost as if each
of us goes through
life wearing a pair of
glasses that alters the
world so that we see
it the way we need,
want, or expect it to
The Power of Understanding: See the World Through Your Child’s Eyes
We need to recognize that we
may have become part of the
Understanding what “grandparents
raising their grandchildren”
see, feel and need enables us
to become part of the solution.
Grandparents caring for
their grandchildren are:
Weirdly wonderful
Wise but stubborn
Worried but hope-full
Wondering where
“they” went wrong
Wishing they weren’t so
Wanting to be valued
Welcoming help
These are precious
times and grand
really matter
No excuses. We
can do this.
Remember, elders rock !!!
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