Relatives as Parents

Houston is at the front of a growing cultural phenomenon. But in this case that may not be a good thing. Houston has one of the highest rates of grandparents or other relatives raising someone else's children. Laurie Johnson reports.

Census data shows more than 43,000 grandparents are raising their grandchildren in Harris County alone. That's not counting aunts, uncles or older siblings who are doing the same.

Angie Grindon is the director of the Relatives as Parents program at the University of Houston. She says drugs and alcohol are two of the biggest reasons for parents to leave their children with relatives.

"We all know lots of efforts trying to educate children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol also account for 80 percent of the people in prison. Our society has been working toward this for a long time, but it doesn't seem that the situation is getting a lot better."

And relatives raising children are faced with a host of issues including legal, emotional and psychological problems.

Grindon says that's why UH is hosting a free conference for relative parents this weekend.

"We provide information referral services. We know the limited resources that are out there but we do know what they are and we listen to what people have to say."

Grindon says she hopes the conference will raise awareness of the sacrifices relatives make when raising these children.

"They're really plugging a gap in our social network and there is so very little support for them."

The conference is Saturday from 8:30am to 3:30pm at the University of Houston Student Services Building. It's free and open to the public, although pre-registration is already full.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

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Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...