Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Support Increased Economic Opportunities and Improved Quality of Life in Rural America
Research Year: 

One in ten grandparents has been the primary support of a grandchild at some time in his or her life. In Arizona, 7 percent of all children under age 18 are living in a household headed by a grandparent. Figures reported in the 2000 census show a 73.8 percent increase since the 1990 census with Arizona ranking fourth highest in increase of grandparent-headed households nationally. Many organizations that provide services for both generations are not prepared to deal with the special needs that may arise. Legal options are limited, emotionally draining and financially expensive.

Description of Action: 

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Southern Arizona Coalition (GRGSoAZ) was formed in 1999 as an outgrowth of the National Satellite Conference on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. With leadership from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, coalition members, and representatives from grandparent support groups in Pima, Maricopa, Cochise, Graham and Yuma counties worked together to determine needs and priorities. The GRG Coalition has become a network of professionals representing 35 agencies to collaborate and meet the needs of GRG. Agency personnel contribute time, in-kind resources and cash to meet the needs of GRG through development of the GRG Resource Notebooks, annual conferences, and activities at the Kinship, Adoption, Resource, Education (K.A.R.E.) Family Center.

Early coalition efforts included the development of resource notebooks containing information and community resources available on support groups, legal and financial issues, childcare and school support, parenting tips, and nutrition and health issues. Notebooks were distributed free throughout the community and are now available on the Web site:

The coalition actively interacts with the Arizona Kinship Care Coalition in Maricopa County that comprises 15 agencies. In 2002, Coconino County Extension in collaboration with Northern Arizona Gerontology Association formed a support group for GRG and established an ethnically diverse 14-member advisory committee, Kinship Kare of Northern Arizona (KKONA), to identify critical needs and develop a vision to provide better services for kin caregivers in Northern Arizona. In 2003 Southern Arizona was selected one of three national sites by AARP to conduct five GPRG focus groups–one Native American, one Spanish bilingual and two diverse groups. The results of the focus groups and a national survey were published for the AARP's 10th anniversary of The Grandparents Information Center in the publication, "Lean on Me: Support and Minority Outreach for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.


The number of support groups in Arizona for grandparents raising grandchildren has increased from one in early 2000 to 21 in 2002, and to 28 in 2003 (Pima County has 13 groups, Maricopa 11, Mohave 1, Coconino 2, and Cochise 1).

In Pima County, the Kinship Adoption Resource Education (K.A.R.E.) Family Center, a One-Stop-Shop, has become a model for other communities nationwide. K.A.R.E. is a collaboration of Arizona's Children Association, Casey Family Programs, Pima Council on Aging, the UA Cooperative Extension and other community partners in Southern Arizona.

During 2003, the K.A.R.E. Center averaged 100 new contacts each month from local grandparents and reached an estimated 11 percent of the county's grandparents who are raising grandchildren. Over the past two years, through leveraged funding and community collaboration, 775 revised GRG notebooks were assembled and 428 distributed. Also in 2002-2003, Maricopa County provided outreach to 140 grandparents raising grandchildren through support groups, conference and one-to-one mentoring. Coconino County reached 48 kin caregivers and received grant funding to develop a survey instrument to further identify GRG needs in their county. Both Coconino and Yuma Counties held their first conferences in September 2003 and reached 59 and 58 participants respectively.

Four annual GRG Conferences were held in 2003 for Northern, Central, Western and Southern Arizona. A follow-up telephone interview with 87 percent of the KKONA Conference attendees in Northern Arizona showed that the 59 attendees had shared the information they learned with 330 additional individuals.

"I don't know what I would have done without the support from KKONA. Having just moved to Flagstaff with my five-year-old grandson, I had no one to turn to and felt alone and intimidated by the school system. During the first support group I attended, the other grandparents gave me the ideas and the confidence to stand up for myself and my grandson." –Flagstaff grandparent raising her grandson

"The KARE Center was there for us when we didn't know what to do." –Tucson grandparents raising their grandchild
"The resources in the GRG Resource Notebook have greatly increased my ability as a professional to assist grandparents raising grandchildren. The notebook has decreased the stress level of grandparents I work with." --Case Manager from Area Agency on Aging.

Funding Agencies: 

Arizona Cooperative Extension; More than 60 community agencies; Community Services Block Grants

Conact Name: 
Linda Block
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

The University of Arizona

4210 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719-1109

Tel.: (520) 626-5161 FAX (520) 626-5849