The List: Top 10 Communities in NJ Where Grandparents are Also Primary Caregivers

Colleen O'Dea | December 15, 2014 | The List
In some New Jersey families, for a variety of reasons, grandparents are both living with and raising their grandchildren

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After rising for four decades, the percentage of children living in a household headed by one or both grandparents declined slightly between 2011 and 2012, U.S. Census data shows.

The Census Bureau has been counting multigenerational households since 1970 because of the public-policy implications of children, parents, and grandparents living under the same roof. In 2012, about 10 percent of the nation’s 65 million grandparents lived with their grandchildren. Increased life expectancy is one factor responsible for the trend, but beyond that are very different reasons for grandparents to be living with their grandchildren.

On the one hand, the increase in dual-income families led to such arrangements being a matter of convenience — usually a widowed grandmother is available to take care of the children after school. And baby boomers have found themselves part of the so-called sandwich generation, caring both for their children and a parent who is old, infirm, and no longer able to live alone.

On the other, there are matters of financial necessity, with one or both grandparents heading a household that includes a single parent, usually the daughter, with children — in extreme cases, as during the recent recession, grandparents have taken in and provided support for a married child with family. Sometimes, due to drug abuse, incarceration, or other problems, grandparents have full responsibility for parenting their grandchildren with no parents present.

Some 2.7 million grandparents across the country fall into the latter group — providing support for their grandchildren with or without the middle-generation present. In New Jersey, the proportion of grandparent caregivers was lower than in the nation as a whole.

Still, there are some municipalities where a much greater percentage of grandparents were responsible for their grandchildren. Here is a list of the 10 communities with at least 326 grandparents living with their grandchildren — the statewide average — that had the highest proportion of grandparent caregivers. All data is averaged for 2008-2012 to provide the most accurate estimates.

1. Keansburg

Nearly 60 percent of the 389 grandparents living with their grandchildren in this Monmouth County borough were also supporting them. Almost 40 percent had been doing so for at least three years. More than 90 percent were non-Hispanic whites. Most were married and younger than age 60. In a third of the cases, neither of the parents of children under 18 were present.

2. Ewing

An estimated 754 grandparents were living with their grandchildren in this township neighboring Trenton, and 53 percent were also the caregivers. A majority of the grandparents were women and more than a third had been supporting their grandchildren for five years or longer. More than a third were foreign born and a quarter speak a language other than English.

3. Phillipsburg

Just over half of 391 grandparents living with their grandchildren in this town on the Delaware River in Warren County were also responsible for them. Nearly all of the grandparents were non-Hispanic whites, under age 60 and female. Only half were married. Nearly 4 in 10 was living in poverty, the highest rate of any municipality on the list.

4. Mantua

This Gloucester County township had the smallest number of grandparents responsible for their grandchildren of any community on the list — 166. Typically, they have been supporting the children here for only one or two years. Most were under age 60 and all were non-Hispanic white. There were slightly more grandfathers helping out. In none of these family arrangements were the children’s parents helping support them.

5. Hamilton, Atlantic County

An estimated 462 of 972 grandparents were supporting their grandchildren in this township. Most were under age 60. More than three-quarters were grandmothers and about 7 in 10 were either working or looking for work. Ten percent were living in poverty.

6. Delran

Slightly more than 47 percent of 480 grandparents in this Burlington County township were responsible for the grandchildren they were living with. Slightly more than half were foreign-born and nearly that many spoke a language other than English. In nearly 20 percent of these households, the grandparents were raising their grandchildren on their own without help from the children’s parents.

7. Brick

This township in Ocean County had the largest number of grandparents living with their grandchildren of any community on the list — 1,560. Of those, 47 percent were also supporting the children and typically they have been doing so for five years or more. About two-thirds were under age 60 and nearly 9 in 10 were non-Hispanic whites.

8. Winslow

Almost 46 percent of 904 grandparents living with grandchildren in this Camden County township were also raising them. Slightly more than half were married and there were more grandmothers supporting extended families. About 70 percent were minorities and 1 in 10 were foreign born.

9. Maple Shade

The second Burlington County municipality on the list had 522 grandparents living with their grandchildren, 233 of whom were also responsible for them. Some 6 in 10 were still working or looking for work and 4 in 10 were not getting assistance from the children’s parents.

10. West New York

About 43 percent of 1,406 grandparents living with their grandchildren were also raising them. Most were long-term arrangements that included three generations living together under the same roof and most grandparents were married. Almost 2 in 10 families were living in poverty. In this diverse Hudson County community, 80 percent of the grandparents were foreign born, the most of any municipality on the list.