FARMINGTON — Superintendent Christian Elkington told Regional School Unit 9 directors Tuesday that roughly 15% to 20% of the 2,250 district students are being cared for by grandparents, raising a number of educational and safety issues.

“It’s one of the untold concerns,” he said. “This is going up every year. It puts a strain on a lot of safety net issues.”

He shared an article from the Brookings Institution on the the rising number of multigenerational households that said one in every eight children are living with their grandparents, based on the 2000 Census and 2019 American Community Survey.

“Since 2000, the share of children in the U.S. living with at least one grandparent has increased by more than 36%, from 9.3% to 12.7%,” according to the article titled “More kids are living with their grandparents. Can safety net policy keep up?”

Elkington, however, thinks the numbers in RSU 9 are roughly 15% to 20%.

“The increase in children living with their grandparents is accompanied by a decline in children living in two-parent, parent-only households,” the article states. In terms of disadvantages, it says grandparents who care for their grandchildren are met with higher rates of food insecurity and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation, as well as having double the poverty rate of the general population of older adults.


Elkington said the administration is often left coordinating care and education plans with grandparents who do not have legal guardianship of the child or children. “If they’re not the legal guardian, they’re in a bad situation,” he said.

Director Janice David of Farmington said she has seen those situations firsthand.

“Sometimes the dynamic between the parent and the grandparent are not so good,” she said. “Either the grandparent doesn’t want to push for that guardianship, or the parent is reluctant because of their issues with their parent.”

Elkington said for many of the children, it is better for them to be in the care of their grandparents than in the foster care system, but it still presents problems for the school.

Director J. Jeffery Barnum of New Vineyard asked Elkington how to address the problem.

“It’s more of a ‘we need to be mindful,'” he said. “Our school teams need to be mindful of this and really try to work with the birthright parents, so they allow their parent more opportunity to be the first responder to things. It creates a dynamic a triangle, that is not a direct link.

“So that’s the best thing we can do right now,” he said, “is just really ask parents who are not around to give their parents more say in direct understanding of what they have to do to oversee the grandchildren.”

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