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Helping Grandparents & Grandchildren Prepare for Early Childhood Assessments

June 7th, 2021

Grandparents that are assisting their adult children with child rearing or raising their grandchildren may face a new challenge in understanding the early childhood assessment process. Some grandchildren that are in their care may need an early childhood education assessment for special education. There are grandparents that are unfamiliar with this process so this article will explore some hints to help grandparents have a smoother experience with the early childhood assessment process to determine special education for their grandchildren or young children in their care.

Supportive Programs

First, grandparents may need to familiarize themselves with the types of programs in their communities that provide early intervention services for young children. These early intervention programs start working with children who are very young and then help the grandparents make a referral to early childhood assessment clinics in the school district and community.

There are also grandparents who may need more intensive help and sometimes seeking the assistance of a social worker may help grandparents who need additional services and resources. For example, grandparents with hearing impairments or second language issues may want to request an interpreter for the assessment and eligibility determination meeting. There are also agencies that provide transportation for families who need help getting to the assessment. Grandparents may need to ask questions and find out about these additional community services that could help both the grandparent and the young child complete the assessment process more efficiently.

Wellness Issues

Second, grandparents will want to consider the child’s wellness on the day of the testing. There are times an appointment is rescheduled when the grandchild is sick and just can’t participate in the testing because he or she is not feeling well. Grandparents can help in encouraging the grandchild to be well rested and have a good night’s sleep before the day of testing. It is important for the grandchild to have a breakfast or at least eat something before participating in as much as three hours of testing. It is not unusual for young children to be ‘fussy’ when they get up much earlier than they are used to and have not eaten any breakfast. The child will be asked to complete a wide variety of testing tasks such as working with blocks, pointing to pictures, saying words, answering questions and even complete medical screenings with the school nurse. If the grandchild is well rested and fed they are more likely to be responsive in the day’s testing process.

Paperwork Completion

Third, grandparents are often not prepared for the large amount of educational paperwork to be completed prior to the early childhood assessment. There are times grandparents forget to bring the child’s birth certificate to verify information and check the correct spelling of the child’s name. Grandparents often need to show custody papers if they are the legal guardian of the grandchildren. If the grandparents are simply helping the parents with babysitting (while the parents work) they may need to bring a note from the parent giving the grandparents permission to participate in the assessment (testing) process. Grandparents should not be afraid to request assistance if they have difficulty reading information or are visually impaired. There is often a staff member or someone available to help read and fill out educational forms. In addition, some school districts want the paperwork completed on a computer or electronic devise so grandparents may need to request help in this area as well.

Time Issues

Fourth, time issues may be big factors that impact the completion of the assessment. If grandparents want to speed up the day’s appointment at the assessment center it is really important to arrive a few minutes early. There are often a variety of clinicians (school psychologist, speech therapist, school nurse and teachers) with many scheduled appointments throughout the day. Running even 15 minutes late can throw all the appointments off schedule and even cause the grandparent to reschedule an appointment if the grandchild misses or is late for the first appointment. If the grandparent needs to rush to work and the assessment cannot be completed, the last appointment may need to be rescheduled. Rescheduling appointments in very busy school district assessment centers can take weeks to reschedule and delay the opportunity to complete testing and possibly impact their educational services and placement of the young child in an early childhood special education program.

Grandparents may need to be aware of how long it takes to arrive at appointments. A grandparent taking bus transportation to the testing center may need an extra hour or so to get to the testing center or clinic. Sometimes just assisting a young child with dressing, preparing a diaper or changing bag and snacks before the assessment takes longer than expected. For example, a young child using a walker may take a longer time to get across the parking lot from the car to the assessment center. Time issues seem to be a really big factor in helping the early childhood assessment process to run smoothly.


Grandparents often are a wonderful support for grandchildren and families in attending and completing the early childhood assessment process to determine if there are delays or a need for special education services. Any support for the young child that helps him or her feel good about going to a new place and working with unfamiliar adults will help the child feel more comfortable about the testing experience. Sometimes just simple things such as having a good breakfast and rest can go miles in helping the child adjust to a new situation and different surroundings. Grandparent support is essential and helpful in completing the assessment of the young child and making future educational decisions for grandchildren and children in their care.

Grandparents As Parents? Know Your Grandparenting Legal Rights

April 7th, 2021

Unfortunately, there are many reasons and circumstances that may prompt a grandparent to want to know what rights they have with their grandchildren. Grandparent’s legal rights may be harder to establish than you think.

There was a case in 2000, Troxel vs. Granville, where the United States Supreme Court ruled that fit parents should be given more deference about whom their children see on a regular basis, including relatives like grandparents. This ruling has made it more difficult, but not impossible, for grandparents to get court-ordered visitation with grandchildren. As put by Justice Sandra Day O’Conner in regard to the ruling,”[S]o long as a parent adequately cares for his or her child (i.e., is fit), there will normally be no reason for the State to inject itself into the private realm of the family to further question the ability of that parent to make the best decisions concerning the rearing of that parent’s children.”

While grandparent’s rights took a bit of a hit with this ruling, it did provide for cases where the grandparents can prove that they have a really strong relationship with the grandchildren and/or had the children living with them and raised them for a few years before custody was returned to the parents. Grandparents as parents are becoming more common.Of course, trying to prove the strong relationship and show that it would be detrimental to the child to not see the grandparents can be tricky. Simply missing the grandparents on the part of the children is not enough. There needs to be evidence that it would be harmful for the children to be denied visitation with their grandparents.This burden of proof that is on grandparents varies from state to state, and while most still give grandparents rights consideration, there can be many hoops to jump through.

After the Troxel ruling, the burden of proof on grandparents became even heavier. Keep in mind though, that if the parent allows the grandparents to see the grandchildren on a regular basis, even if infrequently, then the courts will not often interfere. If the parent does not allow or regularly exercise visitation, that is when the court may step in and grant visitation for the grandparents. Of course, in instances where the parents agree to custody of the children by the grandparents, then the grandparent’s rights are on much steadier ground. However, while it may be tempting to let the situation be an informal matter without legal recourse, grandparents may find that if the situation ever changes then they may end up in court anyway. If grandparent’s legal rights are not supported with legal documentation, then the parents could possible come back at a later date to claim the children, which could be distressing for everyone. Grandparents may want to seek custody or guardianship of the grandchildren. This will help in many situations. For instance, enrolling the child in school, making medical decisions and for insurance coverage, guardianship or custody may be necessary. In many instances, it’s best to protect grandparent’s rights by seeking some kind of documentation that establishes the legal boundaries of the grandparent/grandchild.