Custodial Grandmothers’ Physical, Mental, and Economic Well-Being: Comparisons of Primary Caregivers from Low-Income Neighborhoods*


  • *

    We gratefully acknowledge the support of the following organizations. Government agencies: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (RO1 HD36093 “Welfare Reform and the Well-Being of Children”), Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation, Administration on Developmental Disabilities, Administration for Children and Families, Social Security Administration, and National Institute of Mental Health. Foundations: The Boston Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, The W. K. Kellogg Foundation, The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Searle Fund for Policy Research, and The Woods Fund of Chicago. We are appreciative of the insights and comments of Linda M. Burton and Rachel Dunifon. A special thank-you is also extended to the families who participated in Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three-City Study. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 24th annual Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management research conference, Dallas, TX, November 2002.

**Heather Bachman is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology in Education, University of Pittsburgh, 5938 Posvar Hall, School of Education, Pittsburgh, PA 15260 ( Lindsay Chase-Lansdale is a Professor at Northwestern University.


Abstract: To examine the implications of custodial grandparent care, we compared the material hardship, mental health, and physical well-being of custodial grandmothers (n= 90) and biological mothers (n= 1,462) using data from Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three-City Study. Custodial grandmothers reported significantly more physical health problems but less psychological distress than mothers. Younger grandmothers and grandmothers who sought out more social support were the most disabled and financially strained. Implications for policy and practice addressing the needs of grandmothers raising grandchildren are discussed.