More and more often, grandparents are gaining custody of their grandchildren. The U.S. Census Bureau data reported that 2.7 million grandparents are parenting in retirement, and twenty-five percent of those families live in poverty. In California, seniors are spending a large chunk of Social Security and retirement benefits to cover the cost of child custody and trying to save for college expenses. 

Studies show that with the increase in parents’ drug addictions and incarcerations courts are awarding full custody to grandparents. Experts agree that children thrive in a family home versus foster care, and grandparents or other relatives often step in and assume the parental role before state agencies become involved. Suddenly, the whole retirement picture has changed, and they may have to continue working a few more years. 

Experts suggest that grandparents research all avenues that may be available to them. Local nonprofits and government organizations offer workshops and training on how to apply for scholarships and financial aid. Since many of these grandparents have never attended college, they are overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork and computer skills required. The federal government has established grants to pay for social, financial and legal services. Unfortunately, those programs only exist in 20 states.

The higher education system can be daunting for those who have gone years without filling out financial aid or applications forms. A student or his or her grandparents can reach out to school counselors for assistance in the process. In California, seniors who face child custody issues may consider contacting an attorney to explain options available to them.

Source: The Washington Post, “Grandparents raising grandkids grapple with retirement and college costs at the same time”, Danielle Douglas-gabriel, Oct. 22, 2017