The Census estimates that near 2 million children in the U.S. are being raised by a grandparent. That's up nearly two thirds from just two decades ago. For Ohio Public Radio, WKSU's M.L. Schultze reports that an Ohio-based study is trying to figure out the best ways to help grandmothers who are essentially becoming mothers again.
Researchers at four universities are studying the best way to provide support for grandmothers who have the primary caregivers for their grandchildren. The study is called Project C.O.P.E., and is funded through a nearly 2 and a half million dollar grant by the National Institute for Nursing Research.
Kent State University Project Director Karie Feldman says unlike foster parents and adoptive parents, few resources exist to help grandmothers through the transition.
FELDMAND: "Grandmothers have been starting to call us over the last few weeks to get involved in the study, and what's really interesting to me is every grandmother that I speak to say, 'So someone is finally caring about us?'"
Feldman says the first phase of the study will consist of one-on-one interviews with the grandmothers. The women will then participate in a 10-week long support group program. And the researchers will follow up with the grandmothers every six months over the next two years, to see if the program helped.
Kent State University is the lead research site, but the study will also be conducted at the University of California, the University of North Texas and the University of Maryland.
Greg Smith is the project's principal investigator. He says the additional sites will allow researchers to modify future programs for grandmothers of different ethnic backgrounds.
SMITH: "We'll be in a position to see well maybe this type of program works best for this family here, and maybe this type of program works best for kind of family. So, the information that we get from this study should really help service providers in the future to be in a great position to tailor this programs to the different family types that they're working with."
Smith says they are still looking for more grandmothers to fill the 106 slots. The first interviews of the study will begin in January.