University of California

Grandchildren raised by grandparents a troubling trend


Mary L. Blackburn

Author Affiliations

M.L. Blackburn is Family and Consumer Sciences Advisor—Health and Nutrition, UC Cooperative Extension, Alameda County.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 55(2):10-17. DOI:10.3733/ca.v055n02p10. March 2001.

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This study was conducted in response to requests for demographic and needs data on children living with grandparents in California and elsewhere. The 1990 U.S. Census reported that in California, at least 493,080 children under age 18 (6.4%) lived in households headed by their grandparents. In Alameda County, for example, 22,783 children lived with their grandparents and, of these, about 9,330 (41%) were under 6 years old. Grandparents raising their grandchildren is not a new phenomenon, but the conditions under which some assume primary parenting responsibilities are a growing concern. Custodial grandparents may have multiple health problems and experience severe stress when confronted by the attendant costs and responsibilities. The grandchildren often have emotional, learning and physical disabilities, and many live in poverty. This study describes the demographic distribution of grandchildren living in grandparent households in California, standardizes prevalence rates by county and sets priorities for health and human service needs of grandparents and the grandchildren under their care. We recommend program planning within UC Cooperative Extension to respond to the educational and training needs of older caregivers.


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Blackburn M. 2001. Grandchildren raised by grandparents a troubling trend. Hilgardia 55(2):10-17. DOI:10.3733/ca.v055n02p10
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