Grandparenting: Hobby or Job?

some token grandparents pictureLots of kids in Washington, D.C. don’t have a traditional, two-parent family. Out-of-wedlock births, high crime, high incarceration rates, poverty, and greater extended-family involvement in the black community are all contributing causes. Many of these kids end up being raised by their grandparents. All things being equal, this is much better for the kids than being shunted into the foster care system.

With all that, why not give the grandparents some extra money to help with those expenses?

The D.C. Council is considering a bill that would provide a monthly stipend to adults raising their grandchildren if they meet income and other requirements. If the legislation passes next month, advocates for the elderly and experts say, the District would be among only a handful of jurisdictions in the country to establish a subsidy for caregivers who are not part of the foster care system.

Kids stay out of foster care, grandparents get some financial help. The city would have spent the money on foster parents anyway. What could be wrong with that?

According to the 2000 Census, 8,100 people in the District are raising grandchildren. The reasons range from a parent’s unexpected death to issues involving drugs or mental illness.

The D.C. office of AARP, the main force behind the bill, convened a grandparents focus group in 2003, published a report and has lobbied council members for more than a year.

The first reason to be skeptical is that the AARP, those same extortionists who are busy mugging young workers for Social Security and Medicare entitlements, are the driving force behind the bill. Senior citizens are the richest demographic in the nation; they don’t need extra handouts via taxes. But let’s suspend judgment until we get to the real kicker.

Under the bill, sponsored by council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D), the stipend would equal what the city provides to a long-term permanent guardian of a foster child: about $718 to $791 per month per child, depending on the youngster’s age and the amount of other public benefits received. The grandparent would have to have legal custody of the child, submit to a background check and meet other requirements, such as having an income of no more than $16,090 a year in a household of three.

Supporters say the cost of the subsidy would be much less than what the city winds up paying when a grandparent cannot afford to raise a child, who then must be placed in foster care, which can cost up to $80,000 a year, according to the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency.

The District has about 2,700 foster children in its care, while roughly 16,700 children live in grandparent-headed households, the agency said.

Aha! This bill isn’t about helping grandparents struggling to raise their grandkids; it just does that by accident. This bill is about making those grandparents into foster parents, with all of the bureaucratic red tape that implies. It’s also about expanding the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency‘s control to more than six times as many children’s lives.

We’re used to D.C. government grabbing land for stadiums or trying to grab Federal disaster relief money, but trying to grab control over the lives of 16,700 kids and their grandparents goes too far. There’s something very wrong with paying grandparents to take care of their grandkids.

12 Comments
  1. Although my kids are grown, I’ve got a cocker spaniel, three angel fish, two rainbow sharks, and some misc. bottom feeders to feed still.

    I want my subsidy, too!

  2. Yeah, all we’ll need is a background check, some fingerprints, proof of income level, and permission to pop in to your house whenever we’d like to make sure that you’re caring for them properly.

    Sounds fair, right?

    Yours truly,
    Nick

    …little big brother…

  3. I have two daughters 17 & 14 and was a single parent for a long time. The support payment the judge ordered was $23 weekly. My ex quit his job before the hearing and this was apparently the amount stipulated on the state scale. I never did get that support. In fact, when my older daughter wanted to live with dad, I forgave him his back support to make it happen. Sure wish I was a grandparent instead of just a mom. Oh wait—- I really do not mean that. Girls, if you are reading, disregard last statement.

  4. When Big Brother figures out how to fingerprint my fish, I’ll gladly surrender my rights to them.

    : )

  5. When Big Brother figures out how to fingerprint my fish, I’ll gladly surrender my rights to them.

    LOL. At that point it’s “good game, thanks for taking it easy on me thus far”

  6. Out-of-wedlock births, high crime, high incarceration rates, poverty, and greater extended-family involvement in the black community are all contributing causes.

    don’t forget “dependance on the nanny state”. Getting a divorce and raising a child on their own is not a hard choice to make when the government will literally hand out programs for these single parents at every turn.

    A nanny state merely allows families and social networks to break apart more easily. So rather than actually work together with friends and family, they’ll turn to the government.

  7. The government has long allowed weak women to ride the welfare train so they, at least in my opinion, could create an “asleep at the wheel society” – a society that looks forward to yet another government agency dropping a check in the mailbox. Paris suburbs are seeing, all too violently, what happens when government sponsored social programs are the norm. My kiddos know one mantra- personal freedom comes with responsibility. This applies to everything in my house. Parties, the ability to drive around the block- everything.
    Divorce is a nasty reality for some. Not every divorced parent (ok mother) lives on a welfare check. I hope that you did not misunderstand me and think that I stooped to that level. My ego and pride are too big for that. I am the first to realize that some women trade one bad marriage for another-a marriage to the AFDC department. I don’t understand how the government so easily fools some into thinking it the perfect bed buddy.

  8. Great, I’m sure there will be lost of grandmas trying to portray the real parents as crazy, and abusive. Just so they can get there hands on that government pay check. Sickening.

  9. I spent ten years as a foster child. I lived with foster families who were not related to me by blood for that entire period of time. By the time I left foster care at 18, I had practically no conection to my biological family. I had a biological aunt who tried to take me in before I entered care, but as a single mom of three kids, she was barely scraping by without me there. The state would not help her out financially, so she had little choice but to put me into foster care. As I moved from home to home, we lost touch. If she had been able to receive a subsidy, I might have been able to live with her than whole time and maintained connections to my family and still have contact with them rather than being a stranger to my own family. Before you judge adults who receive a subsidy, think about what it means for the kids.

  10. Dear Jackie,
    I’m not saying that the subsidy won’t help a lot of people, and I wish that you could have stayed with your aunt. However, all government subsidies come with strings attached, and in this case, it’s the government regulating how grandparents raise their grandkids. Maybe the regulations won’t be onerous and maybe more kids will get to stay with their families.

    Still, all things being equal, it’s better for families to work things out without the government sticking their regulatory noses in.

    Yours truly,
    Nick

  11. I spent the last 11 years raising my two granddaughters. Ilove these kids, but it has not been easy. The kids wanted to be with their parents, but the parents had other things to do. Drugs and not caring for the kids properly was what caused CPS to step in and remove the kids. The two girls were 6 and 7; they spent 18 months in two different fosters homes before coming to live with us. I had just gotten married, but my new husband and I decided to raise the girls. The kids were depressed all of the time(wanting their parents), and we became the enemy because we were keeping them with us. Kids are very faithful to parents even when the parents aren’t to them. Did we do the right thing?

  12. I guess I got off track, sorry. We were given medical and $250.00 each to defray the cost of caring for the girls. We would not have made it on a fixed income wirhout the money and medical. I had to quit working to care for these emotionally broken kids, and my husband retired during this time, Money was always tight, no extras. We made it though.