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A third of grandparents in Leon County responsible for their grandchildren, how one area service is helping

Posted at 5:09 PM, Feb 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-15 12:22:38-05
  • A third of Leon County grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren under 18 years of age, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Grandparents as Parents is one of our neighborhood resources stepping in to help these families; they say demand has increased.
  • Watch the video to hear from grandparents who are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren, and how GaP is helping them out.


Supporting grandparents facing new childcare responsibilities.

"We're trying to help them get through something they weren't planning on," said Karen Boebinger, who runs the Grandparents as Parents (GaP) program at the Tallahassee Senior Center.

Finding out about the challenge grandparents are facing in this role, and how free resources like this one can help navigate this journey.

Felicia Rodriguez has had custody of her grandchildren for 3 years.

"Well, we went from being empty nesters of 12 years, to kind of starting all over again because they're so young," said Rodriguez. "Hayden, Connor, and then the youngest is Mason, and then Madison is 3."

Caring for young children in her 50s, Rodriguez said it has been challenging.

"We've had to rearrange our lives, our house, how we look at finances," said Rodriguez. She said they have been supported by many community partners including Generations Church and Safe Families for Children North Florida.

From her conversations in the community, she said it is not just grandparents doing taking responsibility for their kids.

"It's aunts and uncles taking their relatives, its cousins," said Rodriguez, listing the circumstances she has heard about.

According to, 214,000 Children being raised by a relative with no parent present in Florida. A look at the U.S. Census Bureau shows that a third of grandparents in Leon County are responsible for their grandchildren under 18 years old.

In Northwest Tallahassee, this is where programs like GaP, at the Senior Center can help. They provide resources for any relative raising someone else's child.

"From discipline to health and wellbeing to school situations, whatever the grandparents are interested in," said Boebinger.

GaP provide various support resources including events like this one, and monthly lunch and learns where they'll be visited by community partners.

It's all about building community and showing grandparents they're not alone.

"They get to decide what we want to talk about, whether you know it's an issue that they're dealing with, or just you know, how was your weekend," said Boebinger.

The program has helped people like Martha Beverly navigate this role.

"It's hard, as I said, it's hard," said Beverly describing her active position. However, she said it is important as it stops them from getting in trouble.

"I just love them and I don't want to see them go down the wrong path," said Beverly.

While Beverly supports them, she said GaP helps support her.

The next GAP event will feature animal tales at the senior center on March 11. If you'd like to get involved with this, or any other GAP events, you can contact Karent Boebinger at the Tallahassee Senior Center:
PHONE: 850-891-4027