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Major New Zealand grandparent caregiver survey launches

Major New Zealand grandparent caregiver survey launches online

A major survey of full-time grandparent and whanau caregivers was launched online this week by Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ (GRG).

In the 2013 census, 9543 grandparents reported they were raising grandchildren.

“Over a third of those families are members of our organisation relying on our support services and many are raising some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable and at-risk children who would otherwise be in foster care,” says the Trust’s Founder and Executive Trustee, Diane Vivian.

Funded by a Lotteries Community Sector Research grant and led by Dr Liz Gordon of Pukeko Research and Canterbury University, this study will help the organisation and others to better understand the extent to which various social and economic issues affect grandparent and whanau caregivers. There are questions about health, financial support, legal status of care, mental health, child needs and relationships with family.

“We will use what we learn from this research to better tailor support services and educate organisations and professionals working with these families in the community,” says the Trust’s Founder and Executive Trustee, Diane Vivian.

“Mostly children go into grandparent or whanau care because their parents aren’t capable of looking after them and keeping them safe. Substance abuse, mental illness, violence, or imprisonment are common factors. The children are often traumatised, have physical or mental health, anxiety and attachment issues and they are some of our most vulnerable and at-risk children. This makes for extremely hard caregiving.

They need extra support and assistance, but they’re just not getting it because under the current laws and policies they aren’t entitled to the kind of help children in foster care get.”

Within the first two days of the survey launch, 202 members had submitted their completed survey and another 273 had started. The survey is accessible on the Trust’s website www.grg.org.nz to all full-time grandparent and whanau/kin caregivers in New Zealand.

Researcher Dr Liz Gordon notes that "the key to success in this kind of work is reaching people who usually do not have the chance to have their say. The survey is for all these families, and we will be reaching out across the country, through community organisations and the media, to encourage any grandparent raising their grandchildren or full time whanau caregiver to link into and complete our survey.

We want local agencies such as Councils, libraries, SeniorNet, local education groups and others to support us with access to the internet for grandparents who do not have computers at home.”

The research will run until mid-May. Our goal is that every grandparent or whanau caregiver raising someone else’s child has the opportunity to complete the survey.”

ENDS

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