Partnering with the Child Welfare League of America, the Children’s Defense Fund, and a number of other national organizations, the AARP has produced a set of national and state fact sheets for grandparents and other relatives who are raising children. The Pennsylvania fact sheet offers demographic and economic data on grandparent households with minor children as well as information about state custody laws, public benefits, educational assistance and support services.
Of note in Pennsylvania is that over 239,000 children live in homes where grandparents or other relatives are householders. This represents about 8.6 percent of children in the state. Just over 190,000 children, or about 7 percent, live in grandparent households. About 81,000 children live with grandparents who are responsible for them, and of this group, over 30,000 have no parents present in the home.
Grandparents in Pennsylvania who are raising children, about 80,000 individuals, are a diverse group. Sixty-five percent are white, 25 percent are African American, 8 percent are Latino and 2 percent are Asian. More than two thirds of these grandparents are under age 60, and nearly one fifth live in poverty. Raising children as an older adult can be mentally, physically and economically challenging, but there are many public resources, including local schools, area agencies on aging, community centers, faith-based organizations and children’s services offices. AARP provides a free online service called “GrandCare Support Locator,” which can help grandparents search for such resources in their local areas.
Based on the census data used to produce the Grand Facts for Pennsylvania, it is clear that many grandparents with custody of their grandchildren live in difficult financial circumstances. An attorney may be able to help grandparent guardians secure child support from one or both parents, especially if those parents are not living with the children.