Starting over: Grandparents raising children

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- When you hear the term “grandparent,” there may be certain responsibilities you would associate with that role.

However, experts say there is a growing population of grandparents who are raising grandchildren full-time.

When she was 69 years old, Sheila Tally didn’t expect to be in the role of “mom” again, but when it came to her great grandchildren, Jackson and Haden, she didn’t think twice about her age or where she was in life.

“That didn’t even enter my mind. I just knew that these children needed someone in their lives that loved them, “Tally said.

Tally sought full custody of the boys after a family situation.

"I was going back and forth to Tennessee to get custody of the children, in the meantime they were in four foster homes,” she said.

Jackson and Haden have been legally adopted as her sons.

Tally, who is now 75, is raising the 9 and 10-year-old boys.

Even though Tally became the primary guardian later in life, there are many people who experience being a grandparent earlier than anticipated.

“Grandparents who are raising children cover a wide age range. You have grandparents as early as their 30s,” Dr. Lenora Campbell, associate dean at Winston-Salem State University’s Division of Nursing, said.

Campbell operated the university’s grandparenting program for 10 years.

"It is a growing population, it really is,” she said.

"Many of them are working, they have families of their own, and then just almost overnight for some of them, they find out that they really do have these grandchildren they need to take care of,” she added.

For Tally, being a parent again has its challenges, but she says thanks to her faith and strong support system, her new role has been a blessing.

Local senior resource centers may offer support groups for grandparents who are also primary guardians.

The Department of Social Services Forsyth County offers a program for relatives who serve as parents.

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