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Grey generation on parent duty

Central principal Christine Dolley and Joanne McKinnon of the Red Cross are joining forces to help grandparents raising their grandchildren.
Central principal Christine Dolley and Joanne McKinnon of the Red Cross are joining forces to help grandparents raising their grandchildren. Kerri Burns-Taylor

VISITING grandma and grandad's house is usually a great time for kids, filled with kisses, cuddles, stories and the new things they learn each day.

But what happens when those visits last for weeks, months and even years?

Red Cross's Joanne McKinnon said a staggering one in seven Australian children had a grandparent as their primary caregiver.

Substance abuse problems, mental health issues, illness and death are causing more and more grandparents to change from part-time presence in their grandchildren's lives to full-time care giver.

Mrs McKinnon has joined forces with Education Queensland and The Smith Family to reach out a helping hand to the grandparents who had found themselves parenting children again.

She said there were multiple hurdles for those grandparents, including finances, limitations caused by age and understanding technology and school work.

"A lot of these grandparents don't like to ask for help and think, 'This is my grandchild, I can do it'," she said.

A morning tea will be held this month to determine whether there is a need for a grandparents' support group in Warwick.

Central School principal Chris Dolley has offered the Red Cross the opportunity to use the school as a meeting place for the group.

She believes it could be a great way for men and women to meet other people who are going through similar ordeals.

"I think, for those parents who have taken on the extra role, it's great to have a support group, even if it's just for networking," she said.

The morning tea will be held a in the Red Cross office on Guy St at 10am on May 24.

Topics:  children, grandparent, primary caregiver, red cross, support


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