Grandparents Struggle To Keep Their Children's Children
NASHVILLE, Tenn.- A new study has revealed a trend in Tennessee that more and more grandparents are raising their children's children and struggling to make ends meet.
Vivian Smith is a grandmother turned parent for Stephan and Chance. She stepped up to the plate to raise them because their parents are disabled. On Memorial Day, while the boys are off with other family, Vivian had a chance to paint, a past time that helps take her mind off her own bleak financial portrait.
"There's just not enough money in the system to take care of children when they are displaced from their parents," she said.
Smith receives about $100 in federal and state assistance to raise the two boys. That's little help to her in a situation with few options.
"If I put my grandsons in foster care, they could give me some financial help, but there was no guarantee I would get my children," Smith explained.
Vivian's situation isn't unique. A new Kids Count study reveals 67,000 Tennessee children are raised in similar "kinship care" settings, with a lot of Grandparents raising kids for a second time. The study also found that if food stamps, or foster care benefits are offered the amount of financial support is still much lower than what the Federal Government believes it costs to raise a child.
Even getting access to what little benefits that exist is tough enough. Vivian's daughter Eileen Redmond also had to raise her daughter's daughter for about a year. Eileen went through Juvenile Court to get temporary custody, and then only received a month's worth of child care.
"The laws of Tennessee for grandparent rights need to really be looked into, and give grandparents more rights," said Redmond.
Smith also had to go to court to get temporary custody of her grandkids and it severed her ties with her son. She said her real concern is if she doesn't get any more help she may have to give those boys up for adoption.
Smith has since received help from a group called Relative Caregivers. The program was created by the Tennessee General Assembly to support children who are not living with their parents.