Amber Alert highlights growing trend: Grandparents as guardians


SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah (ABC4 News) – In Utah, 24,000 children are growing up with their grandparents as primary caregivers.

That’s according to Children’s Service Society of Utah.

The issue was highlighted Wednesday when an Amber Alert went out after a 3-month-old baby was kidnapped by her biological parents.

The grandfather, Eleutario Caro, told ABC4 he has custody of the grandchild because the parents are too focused on drugs.

According to the Children’s Service Society of Utah, grandparents as guardians is a growing trend.

“Oftentimes they get put in this situation last minute. Their adult child is in a really difficult situation and they’re not parenting the way that they should be,” said Alyssa Craven, with Grandfamilies Program.

According to Craven, grandparents often don’t know their role will last longer than they think it will.

“They come in, in crisis, wanting to know the basics of, I have my grandchild in my home I need to get them into school. Or, I need to get them into the doctor and I don’t have medical insurance for them,” said Craven.

According to their website:

There are 24,000 children in Utah that have a grandparent as a primary caregiver.  Although the number one reason for this fact is drug use by the child’s parent(s), there are also other issues such as poverty, death of the parent, incarceration and mental illness.

These children come to their relative’s home with a myriad of issues and caregivers face many obstacles in meeting their needs. Many of these children have been neglected and abused in the homes of their parents. Relative caregivers face barriers such as:

  • Access to financial resources to meet the needs of children they are caring for
  • Medical insurance or Medicaid for the child
  • Access to enrollment in school for the child
  • Lack of affordable childcare
  • Lack of emotional support

Relatives as parents need education regarding their new role in the following areas:

  • Safety and emotional support
  • Caring for abused/neglected children
  • How to set boundaries with the child’s parent
  • Drug/alcohol education

The children need:

  • Safety and emotional support
  • Stability
  • Mental health treatment
  • Appropriate parenting
  • Drug and alcohol prevention skills

For all of the above reasons, Grandfamilies was created. Please contact us at 801-326-4409

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