Abstract: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Ethnic and Household Differences in Health and Public Service Use (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

88P Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Ethnic and Household Differences in Health and Public Service Use

Saturday, January 16, 2010
* noted as presenting author
Eun Ha Namkung, BA , Washington University in Saint Louis, Master Student, St. Louis, MO
Background and Purpose: As the number of grandparents raising grandchildren has dramatically increased, an estimated 2.5 million grandparents currently take responsibility for their grandchildren. Many studies have demonstrated that the characteristics of grandparent caregivers are diverse in terms of their socio-economic status, caregiving circumstances, and ethnicity. Informed by the life course theory that suggests individuals experience grandparenting differently based on their culture, living contexts, and characteristics, ethnicity and household structure of grandparent caregivers have been examined on how these two factors are related to grandparent caregivers' well-being and support system. Even though household structure preference and impacts are different by ethnic groups, few studies have considered ethnicity and household structure at the same time. Moreover, no study has included Asian Americans when examining different ethnic groups of grandparent caregivers. This study aimed to compare the characteristics of grandparent caregivers from different ethnicities and household structures, and to explore the associations between these factors and their health or the use of public income support programs. The study specifically tested: 1) whether differences in demographics, caregiving status, health, and the use of public income support program exist across ethnic groups, between grandparent caregivers in skipped- and three-generation households, and across ethnic groups living in each household structure; 2) how ethnicity and household structures affect health status; and 3) how ethnicity and household structures affect public service use.

Methods: Using the 2005-2007 American Community Survey data, White, African American, Asian American, and Hispanic grandparent caregivers in skipped generation and three-generation households were compared (n=68,678). Their health status was measured by whether they have medical problems, cognitive impairment, limitations in ADLs, limitations in going out, and limitations in working. Also, the public income support programs included food stamp and any public financial assistance or welfare payment. Descriptive statistics as well as chi-square tests, ANOVAs, and t-tests were conducted to compare grandparent caregivers by ethnicity and household structure. In multivariate analysis, sequential three models for each measure of health and public program use were executed.

Results: Bivariate analyses revealed that grandparent caregivers from different ethnicities and households were significantly different in terms of most of demographic, caregiving status, health, and public service use variables. Even though higher rates of health limitations in African Americans and grandparent caregivers living in skipped generation household were evident, these negative aspects were positively shifted when their demographic and caregivng duration determinants were controlled. However, Hispanics in skipped generation households continuously showed higher limitations in health compared to Whites in the households. African Americans and Asian Americans in skipped generation households were less likely to receive public financial assistance compared to Whites and Hispanics in the households.

Implications: These findings suggest that practitioners should aware ethnic differences when working with grandparent caregivers for outreach, emphasis, and primary goals of intervention. Health services are especially needed for at-risk grandparents such as Hispanics living in skipped generation households. To improve public income support programs' utilization among grandparent caregivers, we should reform the programs' accessibility and eligibility for underserved groups.