There are nearly one million grandparents living with their grandchildren without either parent present in the household according to the 2010 US Census. Furthermore, approximately 10% of these grandparents are the primary caregivers of their grandchildren due to a parent's incarceration. Yet, our understanding of grandparents raising grandchildren in relation to the criminal justice system is limited. The present research is an exploratory qualitative study of five grandparents raising grandchildren in these circumstances. Each grandparent was interviewed individually and all participated in a focus group. We first sought to shed light on the context in which the grandparent gained caregiving responsibilities. The findings indicate that the arrest of the parent was not the initiating event. We then examined the networks and services accessed when attempting to meet the multiple health, behavioral health, and financial needs of their grandchildren. Findings indicate that both formal and informal networks were utilized. There were several missed opportunities for intervention and coordinated service delivery by the social services and criminal justice systems. Research and policy implications are also discussed.
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