An estimated at least 26% of children in the country are currently being cared for by their grandparents.  Children and grandparents in this situation often find themselves with significant mental health needs.  Grandparents may blame themselves for why their children cannot adequately care for their grandchildren.  69% of the children in grandparent care rate in the borderline or clinically significant area for mental illness or behavioral disturbances.  Many of the grandparents and grandchildren in this situation are the recipients of publicly funded health care.  Mental health services are underutilized.  Poverty, lack of outcomes data, geographic distance, stigma and limited sessions all fall into the reason why grandparents are not using their publicly funded health care for their own or their grandchildrens’ mental health needs.

Most grandparents know that their children need mental health services.  Additionally, most grandparents know that they could benefit from a sounding board.  In data collected for a study in Families In Society grandparents named educational services and outcomes data as being two of the most important things for them in seeking mental health care.  Most grandparents did not want to see therapists one-on-one, but reported wanting more social resources like support groups or informal meetings for other grandparents parenting their grandchildren in their geographic area.  These all seem like basic and achievable goals for quality assurance people in Medicare or MN Care.  The study was conducted in California – does anyone know if Minnesota has options like this available for grandparents and grandchildren who are using the system here?  The study also mentioned that many grandparents turn to more community based resources instead of using their Medi-CAL (California’s MN Care) benefits.  What role could community centers, churches and schools play in assisting grandparents raising their grandchildren.  How can the village raise the child?