‘It's not fair’: Custodial grandparents' access to services and supports in Australia

Christina Fernandes, Barbara Blundell, Rebecca J. Moran, Jessica M. Gilbert, Mark Liddiard - Child & Family Social Work


Grandparents become custodial carers of their grandchildren for a variety of reasons, including love, fear of losing the children to the system, efforts to protect children while managing relationships with the adult child (parent), policy impetus, and even for the convenience of child protection systems. As obvious candidates for care provision, grandparents report feeling pressured to take on care, and yet many grandcarers are poorly supported and feel taken for granted. Drawing on a mixed method study of grandparent carers and service providers located in Western Australia, we argue that there are important issues of inequity and injustice associated with being a grandcarer, in particular due to systemic and discursive failures to recognize the complexity and challenges of care provision. Misrecognition and epistemic injustice result in further marginalization and disempowerment, compounding barriers to accessing services and supports, which in turn impact upon child and family wellbeing. The aim of this article is to analyse the complex circumstances described by grandcarers and service providers in interview and survey data, highlighting issues of inequity and injustice and therefore areas for improving policy and services to support grandfamilies.