Elizabeth Adams

By

College: Medicine

UK Report Addresses Health Needs of Trauma-Exposed Grandfamilies

Published: May 7, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 7, 2014) - For centuries, American grandparents have participated in raising grandchildren. But contemporary problems, such as child maltreatment, exposure to substance abuse and the incarceration of a biological parent, are requiring more grandparents in Kentucky to assume the role of primary caregiver.

 

A breakthrough report by the University of Kentucky Center for Trauma and Children presents information about the health and well-being of Kentucky's grandfamilies, or families in which a grandparent serves as the primary caregiver in the absence of a biological parent.

 

Based on nearly 300 interviews collected from primary caregivers of grandfamilies living in both rural and urban settings across the Commonwealth, the report gathered information about types of childhood trauma exposure, pediatric symptoms and health services available to grandfamilies. The report also measured the health condition of grandparents raising grandchildren and the need for additional legal, financial and health care support for these modern families. The questionnaire was distributed through a network of kinship care groups and conferences across the state from March to December 2013.

 

Nationally, more than 42 percent of grandparents living with grandchildren function as the primary caregiver. More than 67,000 children in Kentucky are living with a grandparent, and more than half of those children are being raised by a grandparent in the absence of a biological parent. According to the report, substance abuse, child maltreatment and incarceration were the top three reasons children in the study lived with a grandparent. Incarceration accounted for a quarter of children living with grandparents while death of a biological parent accounted for 12 percent of children living with grandparents.

 

"We have a new group of caregivers trying to manage a new family configuration with children who are trauma-exposed," said Dr. Ginny Sprang, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and principal investigator for the report. "These grandparents are put in the position to parent children who have a special set of mental health needs. We really wanted to understand the experiences of these children coming into care, the levels of stress in the grandparents, and the level of functioning in these children and families."

 

Sprang said the report's findings indicated that many children in grandfamilies are coming from chaotic, abusive and unpredictable living situations. The report found 73 percent of children in participating grandfamilies had suffered from at least one traumatic experience. Sprang called attention to the 16 percent of children who reported four or more traumatic experiences. According to the benchmark Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, more than four traumatic experiences in childhood are strongly linked to a poor adult health and mental health outcomes and early mortality.

 

The report also highlighted the prevalence of symptoms and disorders in grandchildren. Forty-three percent of grandparents reported caring for a child with special mental health need, and more than 17 percent said their grandchild was diagnosed with a trauma-related disorder. In Eastern Kentucky, a region representing more than one-third of the surveyed population, grandfamilies reported that half of children required special mental health services and one-third showed symptoms of ADHD.

 

The report also revealed that grandparents heading these households are in poorer mental and physical health when compared with the general population. Many are overburdened with caring for young children, with 38 percent reporting raising children younger than the age of 5. More than half of grandparents in the study identified as a single caregiver. Grandparents reported having an average of at least two chronic illnesses.

 

"These grandparents are trying to manage the fallout from all the child's early experiences when they are also experiencing a decline of  their own health and well-being," Sprang said.

 

Based on the findings of the report, researchers determined Kentucky's grandfamilies need more specialized services for traumatic stress in children, as well as enhanced legal, financial and health care resources for primary caregivers. Grandparents were least likely to receive child services for traumatic stress or abuse problems because the services were either too expensive, or not available in their community. Sprang said the report underlines a need to provide training for mental health professionals to work with the trauma-exposed children across Kentucky.

 

The study was conducted by Sprang, and colleagues Dr. Moon Choi, Dr. Jessica Eslinger and Adrienne Whitt-Woosley. The study was made possible in part by a grant from Eastern Kentucky Health Education and Welfare Fund.


MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams; elizabethadams@uky.edu

 

grandfamilies_2.jpgsprang_ginny.jpg
April
 
 
 
1
LNFS Presents: Inherent Vice
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Successful Networking & Job Search
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
The Arboretum presents a Party for the Planet! Celebrate Kentucky's Past
Mr. PharmD Pageant 2015
Wed
2
LNFS Presents: Manakamana
LNFS Presents: Donnie Darko
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
SEC-ACC Virtual Career Fair
Massage on the Go #3
Thu
3
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Fri
4
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
5
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
6
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Resumes & Cover Letters that Work
Mon
7
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Tue
8
LNFS Presents: The Godfather
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
UK Remembers
SpeakBlue: Richard Sherman
Wed
9
LNFS Presents: The Shawshank Redemption
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Thu
10
LNFS Presents: Enemy
LNFS Presents: Seven Psychopaths
Cultural Coffee Hour
Last Day to Withdraw or Reduce Course Load
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture: Julian Cox
Fri
11
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
fab-ric-ate Exhibit
Sat
12
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Kentucky's Present - Learn about the Bluegrass region of the Walk Across Kentucky and about invasive plants that threaten Kentucky landscapes
Sun
13
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Mon
14
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Job Club - LinkedIn: Your Job Search Best Friend
Tie Dye Tuesday
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Take Back the Night Lexington
Tue
15
LNFS Presents: The Godfather: Part II
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 11 a.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ Noon
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Affrilachian Poets
Wed
16
LNFS Presents: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Human Rights in China: a panel discussion
Thu
17
LNFS Presents: North by Northwest
LNFS Presents: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Cultural Coffee Hour
Performance Conference
Holi: The Indian Festival of Colors
Fri
18
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Bully Breed Awareness Walk
Sat
19
 
Sun
20
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Floral Sculpture
Pinterest Party #3
Mon
21
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Student Center "Farewell" Informational Fair
Ping Pong Ball Drop
Tue
22
LNFS Presents: Birdman
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Ping Pong Ball Drop
Wed
23
LNFS Presents: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
LNFS Presents: The Avengers
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn
Kentucky's Future - Plant a Tree in the Pennyrile region of the Walk Across Kentucky
Candlelight Ceremony
Thu
24
LNFS Presents: Batman
LNFS Presents: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Cultural Coffee Hour
Art in Bloom Weekend
Fri
25
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Network Publishing: Digital Writing in the Humanities
The Party for the Planet final event in April is Arbor Day at The Arboretum!
Art in Bloom Weekend
Art in Bloom Cocktail Party
Sat
26
Art in Bloom Weekend
Sun
27
Resumes & Cover Letters that Work
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Mon
28
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Job Club: How to Write the Perfect Resume and Cover Letter
How to Impress Your Boss: Employer Panel
Tue
29
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Wed
30
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Thu
 
 
Apr 01
LNFS Presents: Inherent Vice 04/01/2015

Repeats every week until Thu Apr 30 2015 except Thu Mar 19 2015.
Thu, 04/02/2015

Thu, 04/02/2015

Reset Page