ERIC Number: ED484686
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Jul
Grandma and Grandpa Taking Care of the Kids: Patterns of Involvement. Child Trends Research Brief
Over the last decade, considerable media attention and public discussion have focused on the varied roles that grandparents play in family life. Much of this public attention has centered on grandparents who assume parental responsibilities for their grandchildren. Similarly, grandparents are recognized for the active but temporary roles they assume during times of crisis or special need, such as in cases of a parental divorce or military deployment. Yet child care provided in such contexts constitutes only a small proportion of all child care assistance provided by grandparents. The more typical pattern is for grandparents to baby sit over the weekend or during the evening, look after grandchildren when parents are at work, or take care of grandkids under other, more routine, circumstances. Using data from two large national surveys, this Research Brief presents a statistical snapshot of grandparental child care in American families. The brief sheds light on who provides this care, what type and how much is provided, and considers some of the financial benefits of this care for the families involved. While most research on grandparents has focused almost exclusively on grandmothers, this brief considers child care provided by both grandmothers and grandfathers. Analyses reveal that many grandparents provide some type of child care to their grandchildren, an important type of ongoing assistance to their adult children that reflects the lifelong patterns of support between parents, children, and grandchildren. Although grandmothers are more likely to provide child care, many grandfathers do so as well. The data also suggest that while some grandparents provide child care for only a few hours a week, many are providing substantial amounts of this assistance and may be juggling child care responsibilities with their own work schedules. Another surprising finding was that although most grandparental child care is unpaid, a small but significant percentage of families with young children report paying grandparents for the child care they provide.
Descriptors: National Surveys, Working Hours, Grandparents, Grandchildren, Family Environment, Divorce, Child Care, Statistical Data
Child Trends. 4301 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 100, Washington DC 20008. Tel: 202-572-6000; Fax:202-362-5533; Web site: http://www.childtrends.org
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Sponsor: David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Los Altos, CA.William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Palo Alto, CA.
Authoring Institution: Child Trends, Inc., Washington, DC.