Second Time Around: Program Supports Custodial Grandparents of At-Risk Children

From 1996 to 1998, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) enabled Grandparents As Second Parents (GASP), a start-up organization based in Oakland, Calif., to test and to disseminate for national use a peer support program it had developed for grandparents raising their grandchildren.

GASP was formed in 1989 as one of the first responses to the increasing number of children living with their grandparents, a problem often resulting from parental substance abuse and consequences such as incarceration.

Both GASP and LSPC are members of the Grandparent Caregiver Advocacy Project (GCAP), a collaboration of four organizations providing services, training resources, and policy advocacy for grandparents and relative caregivers in California.

Key Results

  • GASP organized seven grandparent caregiver conferences in Chicago, Ill.; Columbus, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; and four cities in Florida—Bartow, Miami, Tampa, and St. Petersburg.

  • GASP gave training and technical assistance to these communities as well as to Castro Valley, Calif., to help establish local planning committees, task forces, and coalitions.

  • It helped them conduct needs assessments; and set up peer support programs for grandparent caregivers.

  • GASP produced a manual for grandparents to help them set up peer support groups, and distributed 750 copies mainly through the conferences and training workshops.

  • Overall, GASP estimated it provided information and/or training to over 1,100 grandparents, caregivers, providers, and community advocates, including representatives of some 100 social service agencies.