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September 09, 2004 Contact: AoA Press Office
(202) 401-4541

The Administration On Aging Honors Grandparents Day

This year the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) honored Grandparents Day on Sunday, September 12 by highlighting the important role that grandparents play in their families and by spotlighting the stories of several dedicated grandparents that receive assistance through AoA’s National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). Not only do grandparents play an important role within their families, sometimes they may find themselves back in the role of raising young children due to a sudden unfortunate event or set of circumstances involving the natural parents.

According to the U.S. Census 2000, approximately six million children across the country are living in households headed by grandparents or other relatives. During the past 25 years, the number of children being raised by someone other than a parent has increased dramatically. Since 1990, the greatest increase has been in the number grandparent-maintained households without either parent present.

“Grandparents with responsibility as primary caretaker for their grandchildren represents a cadre of unsung caregivers who are responsible for the basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing for their grandchildren,” said Josefina G. Carbonell, AoA’s Assistant Secretary for Aging. Of these caregivers, 1.5 million are grandmothers and 900,000 are grandfathers. This role requires special coping skills for handling family crises involving three generations – themselves, their children and the grandchildren.

"Whether spoiling a grandchild during a visit or providing full-time care to a grandchild whose parents are unable or unwilling to do so, grandparents play a unique and invaluable role in American families,” said Donna M. Butts, Executive Director of Generations United in Washington, DC. “They provide an incredible service to our country providing the roots and wings children need to thrive."

The NFCSP, a program of AoA, helps caregivers obtain vital information and supportive services in their community. NFCSP is administered through the National Aging Services Network, which includes 56 State Units on Aging; 655 Area Agencies on Aging; 244 tribal organizations and about 30,000 local service providers.

AoA honors today’s grandparents by sharing the individual stories of six grandparents identified by NFCSP grantee organizations.

Frank and Francisca Colores have participated in the United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona’s Aging Caregivers and the Exceptional Child (ACE) project during the last two years. The Colores’ took four children into their home because their mother was involved with substance abuse and eventually left the city.

Shig Kihara is a grandfather of three children and an infant. He also is a caregiver for his 92 year-old mother. At the time of this interview, Mr. Kihara just finished his weekly route as a volunteer escort for Asian Community Center (ACC) Rides, a para-transit program for older adults operated by the ACC in Sacramento, California.

Jesse Williams, aged 82, cares full-time for her seven-year-old great granddaughter Dorese, whose mother passed away during childbirth. She also provides childcare for her three-month-old great-granddaughter while the mother works a swing shift. Mrs. Williams receives help from a grandparent support group called Grandparents Offering Love and Discipline (GOLD) that meets once a month in her hometown of Danville, Illinois.

Albert Garcia, from Rochester, New York, assumed responsibility for his granddaughter Renee, aged 12 almost seven years ago. The courts awarded him custody of Renee since the parents were not able to care for her. It has not been an easy road for Mr. Garcia, but he has stayed committed to doing his best for his granddaughter.

Grace Broken Leg, a 78-year-old great-grandmother living on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, is raising her thirteen great-grandchildren and participates in the Native American Caregiver Support Program. She wants the best for her great-grandchildren and encourages their education.

Loretta Hollow Horn Bear Iyotte also participates in the Rosebud Reservation Native American Caregiver Support Program. She is 79 years old, and is raising her five grandchildren. She has recently adopted her 14-year-old grandson through the Indian Child Welfare Act program.

For detailed stories about these six grandparents visit the AoA Website: Grandparents