Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program
Grandparents and other relatives often begin caring for children with little or no warning or preparation. They may have difficulty accommodating children in their current residence for a variety of reasons; school policies may be difficult to navigate; and the stress of caring for children can be overwhelming. In Illinois, there are 263,890 children under the age of 18 living in homes where a relative is head of household. More than 71,000 grandparents are caring for their grandchildren. There are more than 85,000 children being raised by kin with no parent present. The Illinois Department on Aging, in cooperation with the Kinship Navigator Task Force, works to locate, assist and promote awareness of older caregivers who are currently raising their family's children. Find information on Task Force meetings on IDoA’s calendar.
The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program began in 1996 with a grant from the Brookdale Foundation. Additional legislative support has allowed the Department to expand the program, by establishing support groups and providing them with financial and technical assistance; providing grandparents with information and referral assistance; and training professionals and facilitators to meet grandparents needs. There are many resources and programs in place to help. For more information on Grandparents and Older Caregivers Raising Children, visit the DCFS website.
Supports & Services
DoA provides funding to 13 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) across the state under the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program. Grandparents and older relatives raising grandchildren or other relative children may be eligible for services under this Program, including:
- Respite: Enables caregivers to be temporarily relieved from their caregiving responsibilities.
- Legal Assistance: Legal aid representatives may help with a wide variety of civil law issues such as visitation, guardianship, adoption, and formal caregiving relationships.
- Support Groups: Peer-to-peer social networks of support and guest speakers help grandparents feel supported in their caregiving role.
- Counseling: Individualized support that helps caregivers cope with the impact of this special role on physical, mental and emotional health.
- Gap-Filling: Supplemental supports to complement the care provided by grandparents and older relatives such as clothing, school supplies, and other emergency needs.
To access these services, call IDoA’s Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 or contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) using IDoA’s map tool.
Generations United: Works to enact policies and promote programs to help grandfamilies address challenges.
Grandfamilies.org: Provides legal resources and policy information for grandparents raising grandchildren.
Grandfamilies and Kinship Support Network: National technical assistance center for those who serve grandfamilies and kinship families