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New report shows grandfamilies face heightened mental health concerns due to trauma

More than  62,000 Arizona grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren.It’s a number that continues to  grow. Now, a new report shows the emotional toll it can take on both grandparents and the kids they raise. 

Donna Butts is the executive director of Generations United, which advocates for policies and programs that support grandfamilies. 

"So each year, we take a deep dive into a topic that's either emerging or one that hasn't been touched on yet. So this year, the focus was on mental health and trauma," Butts said. 

And Butts says these families are  more likely to have experienced trauma

Grandfamilies are often formed suddenly. A parent could be incarcerated, struggling with substance-use disorder, or passed away. So, that child is sent to live with a grandparent. 

"There's that sense of loss and having lost that ability to be a retired older adult, or the ability to, you know, spend the holidays with your mom and dad. So there's a lot of loss," Butts says. 

The study shows these families may experience higher rates of  depression, anxiety or feelings of stress

KJZZ 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.