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Grandparent-led households tally 4.1 percent in Kansas

Editor's note: This series first appeared in The Hays Daily News in 2010.

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This is the second in a series of articles about grandparents raising grandchildren.

Q: What are additional statistics and demographic trends regarding grandparents raising grandchildren?

A: In the 2000 U.S. Census, 39 percent of grandparent caregivers had been responsible for raising their grandchildren for five years or longer. The Northeast and South regions of the U.S. had the most grandparents in this category, whereas the West had the lowest percentage.

More caregiving grandparents age 60 and older had cared for their grandchildren five years or more (55 percent) compared with those grandparents younger than 60 years of age (32 percent). Grandparent age distribution was related to the length of time grandparents were responsible for providing primary care to grandchildren. Thus, those who were older were more likely to have been caring for their grandchildren longer.

The 2000 Census defined two categories of grandparents living with grandchildren. The first of these is co-resident grandparent, defined as a grandparent living in the same household as grandchildren younger than 18 years. The second term defined was that of grandparent caregiver, one who has primary responsibility for grandchildren with whom they live who are younger than 18. In the 2000 Census, 42 percent of co-resident grandparents also were caregivers.

Comparing the geographic distribution of co-resident versus caregiver grandparents reveals the West had the highest percentage of co-resident grandparents and the lowest percentage of caregiving grandparents. Analyzed by states, the highest percentages of grandparent caregivers were in the states of Oklahoma and Wyoming.

States having the lowest percentage of grandparent caregivers were Massachusetts and Hawaii.

When tabulated by county, counties in the Northeast and Midwest generally had lower percentages of co-resident grandparents. On the other hand, counties in the Southwest and South had higher percentages of co-resident grandparents.

There is a positive correlation between non-Hispanic whites and lower percentages of co-residential grandparents. When analyzed by race, only 2 percent of non-Hispanic white households had co-resident grandparents.

Higher percentages of co-resident grandparents are noted in areas with large immigrant populations that live in extended family households, such as Asian and Latin American families.

The majority of grandparent caregivers (94 percent) were either the heads of the household or the spouses of the heads of the household. Of this group, 34 percent were living with grandchildren without the parents of the grandchildren living in the same households. Broken down by region, there were 37 percent of grandparent caretaker households with no parents present in the South, 35 percent in the Midwest, 31 percent in the Northeast, and 29 percent in the West.

In 2007, the Administration for Children and Families and the Administration on Aging released a report titled "Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Call to Action in January 2007."

In 2001, 26 percent of children born were in a relative's care by 9 months of age, most often that of a grandmother. The grandparent caregivers included 30 percent who work, 11 percent who are retired and continue to work, and 50 percent who are retired and do not work.

According to a report by Simmons and Dye in 2003, in households headed by grandparents, 41.6 percent of white children live with grandparents, 51.7 percent of African-American children, and 34.7 percent of Hispanic children.

In Kansas, 4.1 percent of all children live in grandparent-headed households, or 29,026 children. There are 8,739 children or 1.2 percent of all children in Kansas who live with other relatives. Of these 37,765 children, 16,184 do not have either parent living in the household.

Furthermore, 17,873 grandparents in Kansas report they are the responsible parents for their grandchildren. Analyzed by race and ethnicity, 67 percent are white, 17 percent African-American, 11 percent Hispanic/Latino, 2 percent Asian, and 2 percent American Indian or Alaskan Native.

The above information regarding Kansas is online at Kansas Grandfacts. The AARP Foundation, Casey Family Programs, the Brookdale Foundation Groups, Child Welfare League of America, Children's Defense Fund, and Generations United have collaborated to produce fact sheets by state that include data, programs and public policies.

Judy Caprez is associate professor and director of social work at Fort Hays State University. Send your questions in care of the department of sociology and social work, Rarick Hall, FHSU.