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WVU Researchers continue search for grandparents raising grandchildren


The Preston County News & Journal

KINGWOOD, W.Va. — Dr. Lauri Andress, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Leadership, continues to look for grandparents, ages 56 and up, who are raising their grandchildren.

“This project actually started out of my first project on senior citizens,” Andress said. “In the first phase, we conducted a study in Preston County on the problems of availability, accessibility, affordability, accommodation and acceptability of food with Preston County.”

“During the collection of data, it was casually mentioned to me seniors were taking care of their grandchildren,” Andress said. “So, I decided to look into it and see what we could find out.”

Andress has conducted three study groups to date, and the next one is Thursday.

“What we have discovered in these few short months is there is an uptick in the number of grandparents with legal custody of their grandchildren,” Andress said. “Grandparents with legal custody have an easier time accessing services the grandchildren need.”

“Then, there is a second group of grandparents with disabilities and may not work taking care of their grandchildren,” Andress continued. “This group has a more difficult time getting services for themselves and their grandchildren.”

There is a third group of grandparents that worked and have a good social security check and are doing okay, but may have to cut back on some things.

“Finally, we have multigenerational families living together,” Andress said. “They seem to do well, but those with low income are, of course, struggling and going to food pantries.”

She also said there is a national organization looking into the issue of grandparents raising their grandchildren, and this problem is not isolated to Preston County, but is a nation-wide issue.

Andress said she is finding two common themes from grandparents when asked why they are raising their grandchildren.

“The first is the parents have no job or on drugs and the parents are not capable of taking care of their children,” Andress said. “The parents generally feel hopeless and leave the children with their parents.”

“The second theme is the multigenerational household,” Andress continued. “They are living together under one roof. Nothing bad has happened, but finances seem to be the driving factors.”

Andress hopes to continue conducting study groups until September and then comply her data for a final report.

“The length of the study is actually dependent on how long my grant money lasts honestly,” Andress said. “But I’m thinking it can last until September.”

She hopes to have a final report available in December, and then look into a possible third and final phase of research that could address the transportation issues, but, until then, Andress is going to continue collecting her data.

Andress wants to hear from grandparents, ages 56 and up, raising grandkids who experience difficulty getting groceries, no reliable transportation to get around; income doesn’t cover all your needs, missing meals during the week or run out of groceries before the end of your financial month.

At the meeting, participants will talk about ways to make it easier for them to get and pay for food for their households.

Grandparents who want to participate have to register by calling 304-581-1834 or emailing [email protected]. Spots for Thursday, May 18 group are still available.

Give your name, phone number, age and if you live in Preston County. Those selected will be contacted with the location of the meeting. Participants will get lunch and a $25 gift card as a thank-you for volunteering.

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