- Raising Grandchildren is a series looking at the challenges faced by elderly couples and singles who have children in their full-time care.
The underlying causes of why children end up living with grandparents need to be addressed, says the senator who headed a national inquiry into the issues faced by kin carers.
Western Australian Greens senator Rachel Siewert chaired the 2014 Grandparents who take primary responsibility for their grandchildren senate inquiry, and said she still gets a regular stream of grandparents voicing their need for support.
She said governments should start focusing on and addressing the reasons as to why children are unable to be cared for by parents and end up in living with grandparents.
"We are seeing an incease in the number of kids in grandparent care and part of that increase is due to issues surrounding drug and alcohol abuse," she said.
"This is not the only issue, but one of the issues, where we are not providing the therapeutic [rehabilitation] care that is needed."
Senator Siewert said heavy investment in early intervention and prevention was required, which could help kids to stay with their parents as much as possible.
She said other issues that need addressing include the generational trauma experienced by children, especially in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, and lack of mental health and other support services.
"A lot of grandparents have already downsized their homes and made life savings decisions then all of a sudden they are responsible for their grankids. There needs to be recognition of this, greater assistance to find suitable accommodation, and greater accessibility to other supports," she said.
"Often kids will be behind in their schooling, so additional supports are needed there, and quite often they will have been in traumatic situations and need significant counselling ... these sorts of basic things are absolutely essential but are not being looked at.
"We need to be addressing the issues at every step."
Senator Siewert said commitment was needed from both state and federal governments to ease pressure on grandparent carers.