Shannen Findlay


Are you a grandparent caring for grandchildren?

Are you a grandparent caring for grandchildren?

There is a growing trend towards grandparents becoming primary caregivers of children. One reason is because of a growing preference for kinship care. Many more grandparents act in this capacity than it is acknowledged.

In 2011, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported up to 16,000 families where the grandparent provided primary care to a child or children aged between 0 and 17 years. If these numbers seem a little low, it’s because we all know they don't reflect the actual number of grandparents providing primary care. Indeed, a large portion of cases go unreported due to cultural issues. This is particularly prevalent in indigenous communities for example where grandparents are simply expected to provide care.

Caring for your grandchildren can be an exceedingly rewarding experience. However, it comes with its own set of challenges and hurdles. Many grandparents fear they no longer possess the boundless energy essential for raising happy and well-adjusted children. However, remember, you do have the wisdom that first-time parents can only dream of.

In fact, grandparents have more to offer than they might imagine.

There are a number of other factors to contend with. The age of the child/children, temperament and societal/background issues are just a few. At times, the role of caregiver can be overwhelming, but the good news is, there are services available to help.

In terms of government support, a number of options can be accessed.

Government support groups

Child Care Benefit 
CCB assists primary caregivers with the costs associated with childcare, which covers what is referred to as ‘informal childcare provided by grandparents, relatives, friends, neighbours or nannies. 

Grandparent Child Care Benefit
This fiscal arrangement pays for the full amount of approved childcare up to 50 hours per child every week. Great-grandparents, in addition to ex-partners of grandparents who supplied primary care to their grandchildren, are permitted to access this service. However, you must first apply for, and successfully claim, the Child Care Benefit

Child Care Rebate
Half of all out of pocket expenses are covered (within annual limits). A work, training and study test is a prerequisite, and looks at your work-related commitments (paid or otherwise). 

Family Tax Benefit
Aiding the cost of raising the grandchild/grandchildren. An income test must be undertaken before this benefit can be released, and the grandparent must provide care for at least 35% of the time. However, if your grandchild is receiving Youth Allowance, you will not be entitled to this payment.

Are you a grandparent caring for your grandchildren? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Louise Smithers. Republished with permission of