More grandparents raising grandchildren

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – It’s getting harder and harder for some people to retire, add to that raising children, again.

More grandparents are stepping up to help their adult children raise kids, and that rings true in the Wabash Valley.

Martha Caddell spends the afternoon with her three great grandchildren, it’s not just a visit, she has been raising them since they were toddlers.

“Their mother got into the wrong crowd when she was younger and would leave me with the kids and say I will be back in 15 or 20 minutes and it would be two or three days,” said Caddell.

That’s when she made the decision to attain full custody.

“Well there are three of them and they are all special needs, and I knew nobody would take them all, or want all three of them together. I said I’m not going to have them separated so I took them.”

The oldest, Ashley, is now seventeen, and the twins, Stella and Phillip are sixteen.

Raising them has been an uphill battle she’s grown accustomed to.

“I raised my three daughters, then two of my granddaughters, which one was her mother, and now I’m raising her children,” said Caddell

The financial, physical, and emotional strain at times can be difficult, and at 74 years old Caddell worries about her decreasing health.

“What I worry about is what’s going to happen to them when I’m gone.”

Caddell isn’t alone; more than 140,000 children in the Hoosier state live in households with grandparents or other relatives.

Jim Edwards, director of the Ryves Youth Center, said even in the last year he’s noticed more grandparents raising grandchildren in Vigo County.

He notes two contributing factors, the poor economy and drug addiction.

“I don’t see a magic wand to start creating a lot of jobs out there. I don’t have a magic wand that will stop the drug addiction, so what I’m seeing is a progressively larger problem getting even worse,” said Edwards.

When Caddell looks past the day to day stress, the ultimate payoff is clear.

“I wouldn’t give them up now for anything. I consider them mine and only mine,” said Caddell.

Nearly 20% of grandparents living with grandchildren in the house are living below the poverty line.

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