GRAND-Families in PEI
Grand-families are families led by grandparents.
Building GRAND-Families Inc., UPEI and the Vanier Institute of the Family have partnered to build awareness among those who study, serve and support grandparents raising their grandchildren in PEI.
Grand-families have unique experiences, strengths, and vulnerabilities, but little data exists on these families in Canada.
The limited research that does exist shows that many grand-families do not have equitable access to community services, public programs, and financial benefits/assistance.
Greater awareness of grand-family experiences can facilitate the development of evidence-based supports or the modifications of existing programs, services, and benefits to recognize and respond to the needs and realities of diverse family arrangements including grand-families.
GRAND-Families: It Takes a Village to Raise a Grandchild*
Grand-families are diverse and form for many reasons, including parental mental illness and/or addictions; the absence, incarceration, or death of a parent(s); adolescent pregnancy, long distance employment-related separation, and more.
Regardless of the reason, such family reorganizations are associated with better outcomes for the child(ren), however, these arrangements are also associated with increased risk for negative psychological and physical outcomes for the grandparents.
While Statistics Canada counts the number of children living in skip-generation families, there is little other information on grand-families in the Census, and no data on the actual numbers of grand-families in Canada who function in this role with or without legal guardianship.
• This lack of statistical data, coupled with a general lack of awareness about the realities of living in a grand-family leaves a critical gap in our understanding about the experiences of grandfamilies and those who study, serve, and support them. This lack of awareness and understanding is reflected in the current lack of policies and programs that recognize and are inclusive of grand-families in Canada.
Wouldn’t it be great if…
Wouldn’t it be great if educators and their teams had a deeper understanding of the unique experiences and needs of students residing in grand-family households…
To realize this vision our goals and objectives are …
- Building awareness among educators, school staff and volunteers. Informing educators before students from grand-families enter the classroom; sharing insights about the child’s education history and school experiences especially for students coming from outside the current school district/region/province to ensure children in grand-families have an overall positive educational experience even through multiple transitions.
- Building access to education services and supports. Providing students in grand-families with trauma informed and evidence-based programs, including (but not limited to) assessments, special education programs, gifted education assistance and other supports that ensure children in grand-families reach their full potential.
- Building a school culture of inclusion. Including grandparents in the team of support for the student while understanding there may or may not be a ‘parent’ involved in the child’s life at that time to ensure children and grandparents in grand-families are included in their community school.
- Building a school culture of belonging. Recognizing grandparents as a school resource; a source of information, an assistant to educators and guidance counsellors, a source of expertise, for example recognizing mood changes or physical complaints that may be associated with transitions; feelings of shame, humiliation, insecurity, guilt, and/or fear; declines in academic performance; and/or adjustments, gaps in knowledge or skills to ensure children and grandparents in grand-families feel they are valued, respected, honoured and that they belong in the school and the community.
For more information:
• Grand-families in PEI – Donald Avery, President Building GRAND-Families Inc.: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Recent and current/on-going research on grand-families – Dr. Christina Murray at UPEI : email@example.com
• Lynne Steele, The Vanier Institute of the Family: firstname.lastname@example.org
*The It Takes a Village to Raise a Grandchild project is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Engagement Grant program.