May is Older Americans Month
OKLAHOMA CAPITOL --- Oklahoma’s grandparents are increasingly being called upon to help meet the needs of the state’s children, at risk to fiscal, health and basic needs.
According to the U.S. Census 2000, Oklahoma has at least 67,194 grandparents living in households with one or more of their own grandchildren younger than 18, giving the state the second-highest percentage in the nation of grandparents raising grandchildren.
Not only are a majority of these grandparents responsible for meeting the basic needs of their grandchildren on a daily basis, but 38 percent of them have done so for five or more years.
Grandparents and other relatives raising children face many barriers:
- Obtaining safe and affordable housing is a serious concern. If they live in senior housing, where children are disallowed, they are often subject to eviction if the children are discovered.;
- Many grandparents are forced to delay retirement or go back to work to meet the financial needs of caring for children. According to Generations United, a national advocacy coalition, about 25 percent of older grandparents are forced below the poverty level by the experience;
- Child care can be difficult to obtain if the grandparent or other relative does not have legal custody or guardianship; and
- Health care issues arise when these families have difficulties in providing coverage for health care costs, and there is often no assistance available to grandfamilies who are not part of the formalized system.
Note to Media Outlets: This release is the second in a series of four releases slated for the month of May, which is Older Americans Month. Each release will highlight an issue important to older Oklahomans. Local experts are available to provide insight on Social Security and other issues facing older Oklahomans. To arrange an interview, please contact Judy Leitner at (405) 522-4510.