ATLANTA—Georgia State and Western Michigan (WMU) universities today launched a national journal that focuses on the needs of millions of families headed by grandparents. It is a free open-access online resource designed to be used by public service professionals as well as scholars.
The journal is a product of the National Research Center on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, a nearly three-year-old collaboration between the universities.
GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy is designed to provide a forum for research with sound scholarship, knowledge, skills and best practices from the field for clinicians, policymakers, educators, program administrators, family advocates and scholars. The inaugural issue, for instance, includes stories on grandfamily support groups, youth mentoring, grandparent resilience and the first of what is expected to be an annual brief on state and federal legislation that will support grandfamilies.
It can be found online at http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/grandfamilies/.
The journal co-editors, Deborah Whitley of Georgia State and Andrea Smith of WMU, are also co-directors of the grandparenting research center. They began planning the journal shortly after the center was established.
“We conducted a national survey of professionals in the kinship-care arena,” Whitley says. “The overwhelming response was that there is a real need for online support resources and for a published journal to focus on research and best practices.”
The editors – which include managing editors John McElroy (formerly of WMU) and Deborah Langosch (Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, NYC) – are committed to filling that void with the new journal by:
- featuring standards of excellence for research and practice related to grandparent-headed families;
- fostering new and innovative practice methods for serving custodial grandparents and their grandchildren; and
- promoting policy content that advances national and international perspectives of issues affecting grandparent-headed families.
The editors also made a commitment to providing that information twice yearly without charge.
“We really feel it is important to make sure this material is available to people who work with grandparents in agencies that don’t have budgets for journal subscriptions,” Smith says. “It is critical that we keep this resource cost-free.”
Smith and Whitley call the immediate response to news of the journal “off the charts.” They report already having diverse submissions to populate the next two issues of the journal.
“We’re getting emails from people from all over the world who already know about it,” Smith says. “There is nothing like this available anywhere else, and our colleagues in places like Scandinavia all want to submit something for future issues.”
The peer-reviewed journal has an infrastructure that, in addition to Smith and Whitley, includes two managing editors and a six-person editorial board in locations around the United States. It also has a network of 35 content editors who serve as peer reviewers.
Approximately 2.7 million grandparents across the nation are responsible for the total care of their grandchildren, and more than half of all children living in grandparent-headed homes are under the age of 6 years. Grandparent-headed families exist for numerous reasons, including parental substance abuse, mental or physical illness, unemployment, military deployment, child abuse, neglect or abandonment, adolescent pregnancy, divorce and parental death.
The National Research Center for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, originally established by Georgia State University in 2001, promotes best practices in the kinship care field by linking researchers and field-based professionals. WMU has been working with Georgia State’s School of Social Work in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies since the inception of a center there, and in late 2011, the two institutions joined forces and resources to focus on this under-served group.
For more information on the center, go to http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/grandfamilies/.