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Kids who lost parents to COVID-19 are now being raised by grandparents

Life is returning to normal for some as mask mandates and other mitigation measures go by the wayside. But for one population, life will never be the same again.

Roughly 2.6 million kids in the United States are part of a grandfamily, meaning they’re being raised by their grandparents.

COVID-19 was tough on these families. They may have lacked internet access making online learning difficult or impossible, and some struggled with food and nutrition. 

"But then we're also seeing that there are new grand families or kinship families being formed because of the pandemic," said Ana Beltran with Generations United, a national nonprofit that supports grandfamilies and other kinship families. "And yes, because both parents died. But anecdotally, we're hearing about it all over the country."

Lisa McCormick is with Duet, which supports grandfamilies in Arizona.

"But we're definitely receiving at least a phone call a month from new grandfamilies. So they weren't prepared for that," she said. "And they also have to help the child through that grief as well."

Generations United recently released a report about the challenges facing grandfamilies. It found many need help accessing legal services, educational supports, housing, child care and respite. 

Senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.