Lived Experiences and Attributes of Custodial Grandparents that Influence Their Grandchild's Early Learning and Development: A Phenomenological Study
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Over the last decade, the United States has experienced a steady rise in the number of children who are placed in out-of-home care, due in large part to the opioid epidemic. When children cannot live with their parents, kinship care is the preferred placement option because it helps children maintain a sense of stability, familiarity, and connection to family culture. A majority of these relative caregivers are grandparents who take on full-time caregiving responsibility for their grandchildren. Custodial grandparenting differs from typical parenting and other kinship caregiving. The focus of this study was the nonnormative experience of grandparents raising grandchildren. A phenomenological research design was used to explore the lived experiences and attributes of grandparents with custody of a preschool-age grandchild enrolled in Head Start. The study took place in the state of Ohio in the Midwestern region of the United States. The findings draw attention to grandparent-headed families as a specific family form with unique strengths, challenges, and needs. The findings also reveal a gap in the supports and services necessary to promote resilience and well-being among caregivers and children in grandparent-headed families. This study contributes to existing research on grandfamilies and informs professional learning and continuous improvement within child and family serving systems.
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