Faculty publication: Byers et al.


Cross, S. L., Day, A. G., & Byers, L. G. (2010). American indian grand families: A qualitative study conducted with grandmothers and grandfathers who provide sole care for their grandchildren. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 25(4), 371-383.

A qualitative study was conducted to determine the rationale for 31 American Indian grandparents’ who provide sole care of their grandchildren, the impact of historical trauma on their decision making process in accessing services, the value of American Indian Child Welfare policies in addressing care issues, and custody status of the grand families. Indian Outreach Workers, Community Health Representatives, Elder Program Directors, and tribal community leaders were key in the recruitment of participants. The grandparents were informed of the purpose of the study and participated in face-to-face, paper and pencil, individual interviews. The subjects included 29 grandmothers and two grandfathers; age 43-86 years, with 20 who lived off reservation land and 11 who lived on reservation land in Michigan. A phenomenological approach of the “world of the lived experience” informed the design of the study. The researchers recorded the subjects’ responses via field notes, conducted a comparison of responses to assess internal reliability, and entered the responses into the qualitative data analysis Nvivo program. Findings included; (1) reasons for providing sole care of grandchildren (2) stressors and rewards of providing sole care (3) grandparents decisions affected by historical traumas which focused on the boarding school issues and the removal of children from their homes due to cultural differences causing a reluctance to seek and access national and state programs (4) grandparents preference was to seek and access services provided by their Tribal Nations, and/or American Indian urban agencies (5) most lacked legal custodial status which is an indicator the grandparents’ may have benefited from knowledge of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

 

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