Grandfamilies and Relative Caregivers: Meeting their Respite Needs

February 24, 2016

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The State of Grandfamilies in America: 2015 was recently released by Generations United, a national organization whose mission is “to improve the lives of children, youth, and older adults through intergenerational collaboration, public policies and programs for the enduring benefit of all.” The report identifies key state laws and policies specifically designed to address barriers and better support grandparents and other relatives raising children. According to the report, almost 65 percent of children in grandfamilies, or kinship care, live in states with only half or less of the key laws and policies designed to support them. Yet nationally the numbers of children placed in foster care with relatives increased from 24 percent in 2008 to 28 percent in 2013.

Jaia Lent with Generations United summarized the report’s findings, focused on the respite needs of grandfamilies and the status of state initiatives to meet those needs, and offered recommendations for future action.

Matt Kaplan, Professor of Intergenerational Programs and Aging in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education at Penn State University provided an overview of programmatic needs of grandparents and other relative caregivers and specific examples of respite services, including an innovative program that offers respite retreats for kinship caregivers.


  • The State of Grandfamilies in America: 2015, Report from Generations United
  • GrandFacts – State Fact Sheets at
  • The Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center at
  • Brookdale Foundation Group, Relatives as Parents Program
  • Crago, N. & Kaplan, M. (2011). Conducting a Kinship Family Retreat (2nd Ed.). Posted on the eXtension Family Caregiving website. Available online.
  • Developing Rural Relatives As Parents Programming: Promising Practices – A Collection of Practice Wisdom from Across Rural America. Available online.
  • Promising Practices in Encouraging & Supporting Grandparents and Relatives. Available online.

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