INCREASING numbers of grandparents have to bring up their grandchildren because of parental alcohol or drug abuse.
A new survey by the charity Grandparents Plus suggests that grandparents often have to step in when their children become incapable of parenting. It reports that parental drug or alcohol abuse is the main reason why grandparents raise their grandchildren. An estimated one in ten children in the UK has parents with alcohol problems, and one in 25 has parents with drug problems.
Grandparents who responded to the survey said that they often had a difficult relationship with the child’s parents; and most complained of failing to get the help that they needed from social services. Many had to give up work or reduce their hours in order to care for children.
Grandparents Plus has used the results of the survey to launch a new campaign that aims to highlight the needs of grandparents and other family and friends who are carers. The chief executive, Sam Smethers, said that the care given by grandparents saved the Government an estimated £5.5 billion a year. “We want their care recognised, valued, and supported. But cuts to local-authority budgets, combined with welfare reform, will penalise them, and risk more children going into care,” he said.
The Children’s Society is working with Grandparents Plus to raise awareness of carers who bring up children under challenging circumstances. The programme manager of the Children’s Society, Joanna Manning, said that grandparents were vital for children in difficult circumstances: they offered “kindness, help, and constant availability”.