13 August, 2008
Recently I was volunteering by manning the phones at a Salvation Army Emergency Relief centre. I took a call from a lady, let's call her Mary, who had suddenly had to take on responsibility for her 2 young grandchildren. The children's parents were struggling with addiction issues and the children had been neglected. Because she was still in the process of paperwork to become the children's legal guardian, she was not receiving any additional financial assistance and so was trying to make ends meet for all three of them with her single pension payment.
This may sound out of the ordinary but statistics below unfortunately prove otherwise:
In 2003, there were 22,500 Australian families in which a grandparent, or grandparents, were the guardians of their grandchildren (31,100 children aged 0-17 years).
Almost half (47%) of grandparent families were lone grandparent families, while 21% of other families with children aged 0-17 years were lone parent families. Most lone grandparents (93%) were lone grandmothers caring for grandchildren.
The transition to being a grandparent guardian may be sudden, and associated with high initial costs related to accommodating children (e.g. clothes, bedding, school supplies). The ongoing cost of caring for children may not have been planned for and may affect the sustainability of the grandparent's retirement income.
(click here for the full page of stats etc. from the ABS)
Fortunately we were able to assist Mary in getting some things together for the children like clothing etc. But I was accutely aware that for Mary, this would only prove to be a small level of assistance, especially considering the ongoing medical issues that both children are suffering due to the neglect and inherited addiction related problems.
So why blog about this on justsalvos? Because I think it's a terrible injustice that there is an epidemic of family break down in Australia and that many children are growing up not knowing the love of their mum and/or dad. Thank you God for the many willing grandparents who have stepped in for some of these children. These grandparents are providing stable environments for their grandchildren to grow and develop in, get an education, and prevent becoming trapped in poverty cycles. Maybe there are grandparents caring for grandchildren in your street, your children's schools, in your area, in your corps; let's try and help them out.