The idea of children being raised in homes headed by their grandparents is not a new phenomena, but it is becoming more prevalent. There are many reasons why a grandparent may have child custody, but recent figures estimate that approximately 3 million households consist of grandparents raising grandchildren. It is unclear how many of these families reside in Kentucky, but the challenges facing these elderly caregivers may be different than those facing other caregivers.

One of the leading factors leading to grandparents stepping in as caregivers is the opioid crisis and the alarming number of overdoses. Along with addictions, divorce, abuse and military deployment may result in these older relatives finding themselves raising the next generation. Though this situation can cross any social and economic levels, many of these households tend to be headed by lower income and minority individuals.

Studies have shown that these grandchildren may be more difficult to raise, as they tend to display more behavioral problems. They may also struggle with health and cognitive issues, especially if they experienced neglect or abuse. While these children may experience difficulties adjusting to their new circumstances, in spite of facing more health and mental illness problems, these grandparents appear to handle their responsibilities as well as adoptive or biological parents.

Research has shown that these older caregivers may lack as many support systems as other guardians, but they tend to take on these roles out of love and a desire to keep families intact. Even though grandchildren may display more volatile behaviors, grandparents appear able to handle these challenges with the same level of patience as biological parents. Overall, regardless of the difficulties, children reportedly fare better in a home headed by a grandparent than a foster parent. Kentucky residents who have questions regarding legal child custody of a grandchild or who have other issues regarding this area of family law may seek the guidance of an experienced attorney.