Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grandparent Care

For centuries, grandparents have been an important source of support and care for grandchildren, and grandparent care is still common.

According to a study conducted by the nonprofit research center, Child Trends, today’s grandparents provide care “when parents are at work, out for the evening, or must be away for a short time,” such as to run errands, keep doctor’s appointments, or attend social events. Using data from two national surveys, Child Trends found that nearly one half of all grandparents give some type of childcare to their grandchildren. Not surprisingly, grandparents who live nearby are more likely to provide child care than those who live far away.

Grandparents do give substantial time to care. The study found that about 70% of young children in grandparent care received care for more than 10 hours per week, and almost half were in grandparent care for more than 20 hours. When thinking about grandparents and grandchildren, you might imagine a doting grandmother, and this study found that 54% of care was provided by grandmothers. However, more than one third of grandfathers provided care.

This research suggests that grandparents play an important role in family life by providing care for grandchildren, during parents’ work and non-work hours. This can be an opportunity for grandparents and grandchildren to build their personal relationship, cement family bonds, and also to pass on family traditions, history and values.


Guzman, L. (2004). Grandma and grandpa taking care of the kids: Patterns of involvement. Child Trends Research Brief #2004-17.

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