One out of four children under the age of five is cared for by a grandparent while a parent works or goes to school.
Grandparents make an irreplaceable contribution to child care in this country, and because of that we set out to discover what support they might need.
In collaboration with the NCOA, ZERO TO THREE has developed a seven-workshop series for grandparents caring for grandkids under five.
In the absence of accessible and affordable options for working families, grandparents have increasingly become the cornerstone of early child care in the U.S. One out of four children under the age of five is cared for by a grandparent while a parent works or goes to school.1 The number of multi-generational families (three or more generations living in the same household) is up.2 The number of families in which grandparents are raising grandchildren is up.3
Because grandparents make such a significant and irreplaceable contribution to child care in this country, we set out to discover what support or guidance might be needed by families sharing child care between generations. We explored grandparents’ lived experiences through focus groups and a series of documentary videos, and concluded with a national survey of grandparents providing part-time child care to young grandchildren. Our research helped us shape the development of a brand new, one-of-its-kind workshop series for this group of grandparents.
The goals of the Grand Connections workshops come from grandparents themselves:
- Connect with other grandparents providing care for young grandchildren.
- Explore the joys and challenges of sharing child care between two generations.
- Consider ways in which child-rearing advice has changed in the past two or three decades.
Grandparents told us that they hold deep expertise in raising young children, so our workshop takes a “café” approach. We offer up a set of engaging questions to discuss the issue at hand—let’s say screen use or discipline—and grandparents share their wisdom. Workshop facilitators participate as partners in the discussion, as well as frame grandparents’ experiences in the context of current research and safety practices.
This year, we are piloting our Grand Connections program at nine sites serving seniors from North Bend, WA, to Opelika, AL. Two sites are offering the program to custodial grandparents. Three sites are facilitating the workshops in Spanish. We are collecting pre- and post-data to capture participants’ learning and feedback. And in the coming months, we’ll offer sample activities on sharing the care. Interested in staying up to date on this grandparenting work? Let us know and we’ll put you on our mailing list.
1. U.S. Census Bureau. (2013). Who’s minding the kids? Child care arrangements: Spring 2011. Found on the Internet at https://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p70-135.pdf
2. Generations United. (2021). Family Matters: Multigenerational Living is on the Rise and Here to Stay. Found on the Internet at https://www.gu.org/resources/multigenerational-families/.
3. The PEW Charitable Trusts. (2016). Why More Grandparents Are Raising Grandchildren. Found on the Internet at https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2016/11/02/why-more-grandparents-are-raising-children.