Care giving tends to be accepted rather than sought out. It lands on many of us more like a meteor than like Santa sliding gently down the chimney with gifts.
Spouses, grandparents, foster families and others care for the dependents of people in prison. They accept difficulties that none of us would choose:
FINANCIAL IMPACT OF INCARCERATION ON CAREGIVERS
Financial problems are extremely common for caregivers. Consider these key factors:
Family income averaged over the years a father is incarcerated is 22 percent lower than family income was prior to the father’s incarceration. (Western and Petit)
Seventy percent of children’s caretakers are over the age of 50. About 55 percent of children live with a caregiver who doesn’t have a spouse. And 19 percent live in households with four or more children living there as well. (Hairston)
Caregivers may have to make the decision to leave their jobs in order to take better care of the children. Those caregivers who are no longer working often exhaust their retirement savings in order to pay for the children’s needs. (La Vigne)
Forty-one percent of children in kinship care live with families with incomes less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level. (Hairston)
Care givers are easily overlooked as it is. The shaming and marginalization of those with a loved one in prison can only add to invisibility.