Last week the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Gov Nathan Deal said this about Georgia’s families where children are abused, or worse, murdered,“When was the last time the press or anybody else asked the greater family, ‘Why didn’t you do something about this?’ It really galls me, quite frankly, to see an able-bodied grandparent complaining about the fact that DFACS didn’t do something to protect her grandchildren. And my question is, well, where were you?’ ” (DFACS is the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services).
Where were these grandparents? US Census data from 2012 says this about grandparents and their grandchildren:
Number of grandparents living with grandchildren 265,530
Percent responsible for grandchildren 46.9
Percent of grandparents raising grandchildren for 5+ years 38.8
Percent of households with no parent of grandchild present 32.8
Percent of grandparents over 60 years old 34.1
Percent living in poverty in 2011 25.2
Number of households with grandparents and grandchildren 171,939
Percent of all households in Georgia 4.9
Grandparents in Georgia who care for their grandchildren are eligible for a whopping $50 per month from the state of Georgia. Have you priced diapers, day care, or children’s books lately? Fifty dollars doesn’t begin to make a dent in the costs of raising a child.
Single grandparent Deborah Paris, who is raising three grandchildren, told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer “Our system will pay a foster care parent to take care of children and supply and do what they need for them,” she said. “But me, as a relative or actually grandparent, you give me little to no assistance. … Our system is just awful.”
We need to address multiple problems concerning the welfare of children in our state. Gov Deal shouldn’t begin by making grandparents the scapegoats where the state has failed.