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ERIC Number: ED506800
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-May
Pages: 86
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 40
Caring for their Children's Children: Assessing the Mental Health Needs and Service Experiences of Grandparent Caregiver Families. Chapin Hall Working Paper
Smithgall, Cheryl; Mason, Sally; Michels, Lisa; LiCalsi, Christina; Goerge, Robert
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
This report explores the need for and barriers to the use of mental health services among grandparent-caregiver families. Specifically, this study sought to determine: (1) how children in their grandparents' care are doing, and what their grandparents see as their service needs; (2) how the caregivers' needs--particularly unmet health or mental health needs--might impact children's mental health and service utilization; and (3) the barriers, if any, to mental health service utilization that grandparent-caregivers have encountered. This report combines data from interviews with grandparents and a survey of social service providers to explore the need for and barriers to the use of mental health services among grandparent-caregiver families. More than 100,000 Illinois grandparents have primary responsibility for their grandchildren who are living with them, according to 2000 Census data. Focusing on two target geographic areas in Illinois, this report provides a rich portrait of these caregivers' experiences that draws on a family perspective and highlights a number of service-utilization issues. The interviews revealed that absent parents play an ongoing and under-recognized role in the well-being of grandparents and grandchildren, regardless of whether they are a consistent, sporadic, or rare presence in the home. With respect to mental health needs, one-third of grandparents reported symptoms of depression themselves, and two-thirds were caring for grandchildren whom they identified as having emotional or behavioral problems. However, half of the families had no involvement with a child welfare agency, and fewer than a third of the grandchildren and only a handful of the grandmothers were currently receiving mental health services. The unmet mental health needs of both grandparents and their grandchildren are discussed as well as the implications of these findings for practitioners and advocates interested in meeting the service needs of grandparent-caregiver families. The findings in this study are consistent with prior research on grandparents' caregiving experiences. Appended are: (1) Geographic Boundaries of Cook County South Suburbs Study Target Area; and (2) Data Collection Instruments. (Contains 11 tables, 2 figures, and 6 footnotes.) [The Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation provided funding for this project.]
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. 1313 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. Tel: 773-753-5900; Fax: 773-753-5940; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Identifiers - Location: Illinois