Grandparents, particularly, grandmothers in the African American community have historically provided needed care for their grandchildren (Crewe, 2003). Before there was a child welfare system that addressed the needs of African American children, there were grandmothers who served as the safety net for their biological, informally adopted grandchildren, and other minor relatives. They cared for grandchildren and others whose birth parents were unable or unwilling to care for them. For families of color, HIV/AIDS is an emerging issue that is contributing to the growing numbers of grandparent-headed households. And once again, many African American grandmothers have accepted the challenge of holding their families together. This article addresses the HIV/AIDS public health challenge in the African American community with specific focus on its impact on older grandparents responsible for raising children of infected biological parents. It advocates for a model that continues to strengthen the Children’s Bureau investment in kinship care through integrating the needs of children and their aging caregivers.

Author Biography

Sandra Edmonds Crewe, PhD, MSW, ACSW, is a professor of Social Work. Dr. Crewe is the Director of the Howard University Multidisciplinary Gerontology Center that provides professional development for the aging network in Washington, DC. Dr. Crewe’s current research focuses on ethnogerontology/African American Aging with an emphasis on professional development and caregiving. She authored the AARP Report on Grandparent Caregivers and served as expert member to the NASW Family Caregivers Standards. Dr. Crewe has numerous professional presentations and has served as co-editor special edition of Journal of Health and Social Policy; and is co-author of two books, Kinship Care: From Family Tradition to Social Policy in the African American Community and Caregivers for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS: An Ecological Perspective.


Ms. Jaynae Muse, MSW student, served as research assistant for this article.