Grandparents as Caregivers
Data on grandparents as caregivers were derived from Questions 25a through 25c in the 2012 American Community Survey. Data are collected on whether a grandchild lives with a grandparent in the household, whether the grandparent has responsibility for the basic needs of the grandchild, and the duration of that responsibility.
Existence of a Grandparent Living with a Grandchild in the Household
This was determined by a "Yes" answer to the question, "Does this person have any of his/her own grandchildren under the age of 18 living in this house or apartment?" This question was asked of people 15 years of age and over. Because of the low numbers of persons under 30 years old living with their grandchildren, data were only tabulated for people 30 and over.
Responsibility for Basic Needs
This question determines if the grandparent is financially responsible for food, shelter, clothing, day care, etc., for any or all grandchildren living in the household. In selected tabulations, grandparent responsibility is further classified by presence of parent (of the grandchild).
Duration of Responsibility
The answer refers to the grandchild for whom the grandparent has been responsible for the longest period of time. Duration categories ranged from less than 6 months to 5 or more years.
This set of questions was added to the American Community Survey in 1999 to comply with legislation passed in the 104th Congress requiring that the decennial census program obtain information about grandparents who have primary responsibility for the care of their grandchildren.
The response categories for length of time caring for grandchildren were modified slightly between the 1999 and 2000 American Community Survey questionnaires to match the 2000 decennial census questionnaire. The question has remained unchanged since then.
Limitation of the Data - Before 2006, ACS grandparents data had a universe of people in households (which was the same as that in Census 2000). Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) was included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations may have grandparents as caregivers distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the grandparents as caregivers distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.
The data on grandparents as caregivers can be compared to previous ACS years and Census 2000 (with the potential limitation noted above about areas with a substantial GQ population).