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Abstract

Although grandfamilies are consumers of a variety of mental health services, less is known about what these families, particularly the grandchildren, want from practitioners. To gain insight into how practitioners can best meet the needs of grandfamilies, 40 custodial grandmothers and their adolescent grandchildren were interviewed. Results of a qualitative analysis indicated that grandmothers and grandchildren did not make clear distinctions between various types of services and service providers. Grandchildren, in particular, emphasized the need for mental health professionals to facilitate mentoring and to provide opportunities for grandchildren to socialize with other grandchildren who have been through similar circumstances. Grandmothers and grandchildren both recommended promoting problem solving, offering services for grandchildren, and being responsive to the families’ unique needs. Participants also suggested that practitioners avoid making judgments, educate themselves about grandfamilies, advocate for their families, and attend to the experiences of both grandmothers and grandchildren. Implications of the findings for mental health practitioners are discussed.