Around one-fifth (22%) of all Aussie children are regularly cared for by their grandparents, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014).
Sometimes grandparents become the primary carers of their grandkids and it’s good to know advice, guidance and support is available.
The Time for Grandparents Program is a Queensland initiative and we sat down with them to find out more about the program and what it involves.
Q. How does the Time for Grandparents Program help Queenslanders?
A. The Time for Grandparents Program is a state-wide service funded by the Queensland Government. It offers a phone support service for grandparents. The program also offers respite support for grandparents who are full-time carers of their grandchildren and not receiving foster or kinship payment from the Department of Child Safety. Therapeutic grandfamily weekends are offered for a number of regional areas around Queensland.
Q. How important is it for grandparents to get some help or support, especially if they’ve become the primary carers for their grandkids?
A. It is extremely important for grandparents who are primary carers to seek support and meet others in a similar situation. It can be quite lonely and difficult learning a whole new system and way of “parenting” from when they had their children. Many of the families on the program also have amazing stories and it is helpful to meet someone you can share your story with and who understands you.
There is also a loss of social networks and identity when grandparents become full-time carers. Many of their peers are enjoying their retirement and may only be baby-sitting from time-to-time while full-time carers are taking on a full parental role and all the challenges and responsibility that go with the role. This is why having a service available to call and debrief, ask all your questions and get information and support or referrals is so important. There is a lot of information around but it can be difficult knowing where to start looking or finding the time to search around when you have young children depending on you full-time.
Q. What’s some of the feedback been like from grandparents about the program? How has it changed their lives?
Many of the grandparents have expressed that they find the program excellent as they have someone they can call and ask for information, or services that can help make their role easier, and if they are the primary carers they can have a break and enjoy some time being Grandma or Grandpa for a few hours.