State supports changes in family dynamics

Published 09/10 2013 11:04AM

Updated 09/10 2013 11:47AM

SPRINGFIELD -- Families in Illinois and around the country are changing. The Illinois Department on Aging shows hundreds of thousands of children in the state are being raised by grandparents. WCIA-3's Alexandrea Davis has the story.

There are many factors contributing to grandparents raising grandchildren; from health issues, death, divorce to incarceration. But the Department on Aging wants caregivers to know, there's support for their valiant efforts.

"We just click together. Destiny is my heart. I love Destiny, she's everything I ever wanted."

Otis Wesson has been taking care of his granddaughter, Destiny, for nearly 12-years.

"I got custody from the beginning, the very beginning. First day, I got custody of Destiny."

Wesson is one of more than 100,000 grandparents in the state serving as primary caregiver when parents are unable.

"Destiny's mother let me take Destiny and raise her because she said it'd be better, because she was young and didn't understand. So, I helped her."

In light of Grandparents Day, the state is raising awareness for these second-go-round parents, urging them to turn to the "Grandparents Raising Grandchildren" program if they need legal help, support or emergency financial aid.

"I said, 'I'll take care of her for you, I'll put her in a good school,' and I did. It's been wonderful. It's been wonderful."

There are more than 200,000 children raised by grandparents, but for Destiny, her relationship with her grandpa is one of a kind.

"He takes me places, he gives me everything I need. He's always been there for me. He's the best with advice, and you know, grandparents have been here way more than your actual parents have, so they're better with advice and they can tell you what's wrong, what's good. They just are the best. I love my grandpa."

When asked if she would have it any other way, Destiny says, "not a chance."

"My life is wonderful. I think it's way better than what it would have been."

So far this year, the state has provided $300,000 in grant money to non-profit organizations to assist families.

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