Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

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

One in 10 grandparents has been the primary support of a grandchild at some time in his or her life. In Arizona, seven 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 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 Manuals, annual conferences, support groups, mentoring programs and activities initiated at various kinship programs throughout Arizona.

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: During 2005, the Web site was revised to show program outreach efforts divided into northern, central and southern regions, to better serve grandparents raising grandchildren throughout the state.

The GRGSoAZ coalition actively interacts with the Maricopa County Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Coalition (GRGC) that comprises 15 agencies. The Maricopa coalition was formed to identify gaps in addressing the needs of grandparents raising grandchildren. The Maricopa Extension office has focused programming on South and Central Phoenix areas with specific emphasis on limited-resource families and minority populations. The Maricopa County Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Coalition in collaboration with Casey Family Programs, Arizona's Children and Center D.O.A.R. participated in a needs assessment process facilitated by the Institute for Cultural Affairs.

In 2002, Coconino County Extension in collaboration with Northern Arizona Gerontology Association formed a support group for GRG and established an ethnically diverse 25-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. Since the initial formation, efforts have been refocused to emphasize: the expansion of culturally competent grandparent peer leadership, teaching grandparents to navigate services and to build healthy families. In Pima County, the strategic plan for GRG was revised in 2005 with funding received from a Community Services Block Grant to augment outreach activities with Capacity Building Training for Agency Personnel using the Coconino County Simulation Workshop Model and Skill Building Activities for Grandchildren with the 4-H Challenge Program activities.

Three annual GRG Conferences were held in 2005 for northern, central, and southern Arizona.


The number of support groups in Arizona for grandparents raising grandchildren has increased from one in early 2000 to 21 in 2002, and to 32 in 2005 (Pima County has 14 groups, Maricopa 11, Mohave 1, Coconino 5, 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 2005 the K.A.R.E. Center received 2,080 new contacts from local grandparents, and 705 kin caregivers participated in support groups in Pima County. Over the past four years, through leveraged funding and community collaboration, 800 GRG community resource manuals were assembled and distributed to grandparents raising their grandchildren.

Also in 2004-2005, Maricopa County Extension provided direct outreach to 137 grandparents raising grandchildren through support groups, conference and one-to-one mentoring. Coconino County reached 943 caregivers and community residents through direct contact at family social events, wellness sessions, school teas and other venues. A visiting scholar submitted KKONA as a model program to the Koerber Foundation in Germany. Sixty-three percent of agency participants in the Simulation Workshop in Flagstaff responded favorably to the process in the workshop to identify acts they could take as agency personnel that indicate attitude change and awareness of needed system change.


"A support group participant in Cameron said, "I gave up trying to find the birth certificate for my granddaughter until you came here and gave me the push to continue."

"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; Brookdale Foundation

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