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Posted on November 7, 2018 by Christine Crosby in 

Who’s Watching The Children?

Who’s watching the children?

Grandparents – the cornerstone of child care for children under the age of five


Grandparents play a huge part in raising young children in the U.S. In 2011, grandparents cared for 4.8 million grandchildren under the age of 5 while parents worked or went to school. That’s nearly one out of four preschool children—as many as are enrolled in formal child care!

For many families, trusted, affordable child care is difficult to find and often the cost is out of reach. Grandparents step in to fill the gap—often eagerly, always with love. One grandmother decided to retire when she heard her son and daughter-in-law discussing childcare options for her grandson: “I don’t want him to go to the day care center. I would like to watch him.” A grandfather who shares the care says he’s grateful to be able experience his grandson as a two-year-old and “just watch him grow.”


ZERO TO THREE shines a spotlight on real-life families who share the care.

This fall, ZERO TO THREE introduces a series of short films that tell the stories of three families sharing child care between two generations. In one, a grandmother moves to a new neighborhood to provide her daughter and grandson with a secure base for a fresh start. In another, a couple juggles two careers and a two-year-old, with an assist from his mom and her dad. In a third, a grandfather moves in with his son, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons under difficult circumstances, and there are unexpected benefits for all.

These are the stories of pick-ups and drop-offs; naptimes, snacks and backyard boo-boos; compromise, gratitude and joy.  Take ten minutes to watch and celebrate the invaluable contributions of grandparents as caregivers in families like yours.

Keep the conversation going:

Tell us about it.

We want to hear about your experiences sharing the care. Post on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #GrandparentsCare to tell us more.

Learn more!

ZERO TO THREE has the latest info on what’s changed and what’s stayed the same since today’s grandparents were parents themselves. Free downloadable handouts offer grandparents tips that build on what they already know about: setting limits with love, keeping the peace at mealtimes, creating a safe space for babies to sleep, and making the most of time with grandchildren.


Be a big voice for little kids with advocacy updates from ZERO TO THREE.


CHILDRENKathy Kinsner is Senior Manager of Parenting Resources at ZERO TO THREE, a national non-profit serving parents, care providers, and children from birth through preschool.


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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