A fund assisting ‘grandcarers’ is relieving financial burdens for multi-generational families and helping children stay engaged with school and their peers.

Grant Type
Community
Focus
Date
2023
Partner
Grandcarers SA

In 2016, when the Australian Government started phasing out bi-annual School Kids Bonus payments, Adelaide-based Grandcarers SA took action. It could see that the removal of this payment would cause financial and emotional stress for many grandparents who are the legal guardians of school-aged children – people known as grandcarers.

“This payment was viewed as a 'lifesaver' when it came to covering education costs such as uniforms, shoes and laptops,” explains Joanne Lauritsen, Operations Co-ordinator at Grandcarers SA in Adelaide.

“We recognised immediately what the impact would be on our client families. The concept of an invisible, stress-free application process and parameters for payments was developed quite quickly from there.”

The result was the Education and Development Fund. Every year, the Fund assists grandparent and kinship carers who receive minimal financial support to provide for the children in their care. It supports enhancements to schooling and participation in extra-curricular activities.

Grandparents who legally care for children in Australia face a complicated set of challenges. Many live on fixed incomes, such as pensions or retirement savings, which may not be sufficient to cover the costs of raising grandchildren. They may have their own health issues or mobility constraints that are exacerbated by the physical and emotional demands of caregiving. Then there is navigating the legal system to obtain custody or guardianship and navigating the educational system and the social services sector to ensure their children are supported. It can all result in social isolation and mental health pressures.

“Grandcarers have expressed deep gratitude for Fund because it alleviates financial burdens and allows them greater emotional space to care for their grandchildren, who, because of the funding, are not left behind their peers at school,” Joanne says.

In the 2024 financial year, the Fund supported more than 400 children with educational resources such as laptops, headphones and specialist apps, as well as participation in sport, music and swimming. The financial assistance is particularly beneficial for children with disabilities, who often face gaps in NDIS funding.

Other important outcomes of the Fund are increasing school retention rates among children who are cared for by their grandparents, as well as improving their education and employment opportunities.

A grant by the Bennelong Foundation to the Fund directly supported 74 children from 64 families. Joanne explains that while the cost of living is rising, many grandparents are reluctant to ask for more assistance.

“It is an indicator of a generation that struggles to ask for help and is reluctant to appear vulnerable or struggling, yet we know the reality is otherwise. We have a deep and abiding respect for our clients, many who put their own needs last.”

One recipient of the Fund’s assistance penned the following letter to Grandcarers SA.

This money has made a huge difference in our lives.

"C and K came to Australia in September last year to live with us due to being in a neglected environment and observing physical and emotional abuse, drugs and alcoholism. This took up a lot of our funds getting them to Australia.

As aged pensioners we have had to make some huge adjustments. We enrolled them in school, purchased uniforms and the electronic equipment required as well as have them booked in for counselling, basketball coaching and cadets to assist them with integrating into our society.

All this we did on our credit card as we waited over five months for family tax benefits. There are four of us living in a two-bedroom homette, using our carport the best we can to enable us in making ends meet. This money allowed us to pay a huge chunk off the credit card. Even though my partner has had a stroke we are still trying to pick up a few casual hours of work to see us through.

On seeing this money in our bank account I just about cried with relief. The money we received took off a lot of financial pressure and we are all extremely grateful. The children have benef tted so much as it allowed them to integrate at school and try make friends with the social and physical benefits of team sport."

Read more about Grandcarers SA and the Education and Development Fund here.

Impactful results

Making positive change

Grandcarers SA has helped grandparents access the funds they need for their grandchildren to fully take part in society.

Outcome

Better access to education that opens pathways to future career opportunities.

Outcome

More opportunities to connect with others.

Grandcarers have expressed deep gratitude for the Fund because it alleviates financial burdens and allows them greater emotional space to better care for their grandchildren.

Joanne Lauritsen

Operations Co-ordinator, Grandcarers SA

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