Grandparents Raising Grandchildren - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

It's a trend that's saving the state money and helping kids out, but costing Louisiana's grandparents an arm and a leg. Almost 9% of Louisiana's children are being raised by their grandparents - that's one of the highest totals in the nation.

Sixty-six year old Dot Thibodeaux figured by now she'd be retired and enjoying a slower pace of life. Instead she's still a full time florist. Dot spent her retirment fund raising grandson Travis, now 26, after his mother lost her battle with addiction.

"Raising a child is quite expensive. Just because they're a grandchild doesn't mean they don't want everything other kids have," said Dot. 

Dot never legally adopted Travis in hopes his mother would one day recover. Without legal custody, Dot had problems registering Travis in school, getting him medical treatment and she was never able to enroll him on her insurance. Dot didn't even qualify for state help because of her retirment savings - most of which is now gone. Dot says, "You put that in over 40 years. Now you don't have another 40 to get it back."

People like Pat Robinson says that's not fair. -- "If family members didn't open their hearts and homes, these children would end up wards of the state," said Robinson. 

Nationwide estimates say grandparents like Dot save taxpayers more than 6 billion dollars a year. Together Pat and Dot have started a group called Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. They're trying to change state law to make it easier on family members who step in on an informal basis.

In Louisiana, 67,000 grandparents are raising grandchildren - the 4th highest total in the nation. Travis is now a successful installer for Circuit City and Dot has no regrets. But she does say - financially there's an easier way - one she's determined to find.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren is always looking for new members. The group's annual convention is Thursday, September 18th at the Holiday Inn -- South on Airline. For more information on the convention plus how to join the group, you can contact Dot Thibodeaux by phone at (225) 355-5442 or e-mail at lagrparinfo@yahoo.com.

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