Grandparents play a pivotal role in keeping children out of the family care system
By Adolfo Flores
An accident landed seven of Rosie Cardenas’ grandchildren on her doorstep -- and she hasn’t looked back since.
Along with her husband, Jerry, Cardenas raised them when their daughter, a single mother, was seriously injured in a car accident. The Cardenases determined their daughter was unable to care for her children and officially adopted all but the oldest of the seven children.
“I never thought I’d be raising kids again. Everyone said are you sure you want to raise kids again?” Cardenas said. “I prayed on it. The lord sacrificed for us; why can’t I sacrifice for them? I couldn’t leave these kids.”
Cardenas said she was concerned the children would end up in the foster care system had she not taken them in.
“If I didn’t take them in the court would’ve had to find people to foster them,” Cardenas said. “Why? When grandma and grandpa can take the kids right away.”
Child services and researchers said extended family usually takes over the role of raising children when a parent is unable to. Many times it’s grandparents.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2008 there were 6.4 million grandparents living in households with grandchildren under age 18, and 2.6 million of them had primary responsibility for parenting their grandchildren.
It was Cardenas who decided to take the children away from their mother, who was on drugs at the time of the accident.
The numbers would be larger if it weren’t for grandparents taking over the role of raising their children’s children, said Madelyn Gordon, executive director of Grandparents as Parents.
“Caring for these kids, prevents them from going into the foster care system,” Gordon said. “They’re unsung heroes.”
Gordon said a lot of these grandparent caregivers live right above the poverty level and on the fringe.
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