The Healthy Grandparents Program was established at Augusta University’s College of Nursing in January of 1999 to provide physical, emotional, and social support to grandparents and great-grandparents raising their grandchildren ages 0-17 living in parent-absent homes. The primary goal of the program is to provide a variety of support services to grandparent caregivers, while assisting them to provide their grandchildren with a stable and supportive home environment without having to enter and/or re-enter the formal foster care system. 

Services are designed to increase families’ access to resources, increase family empowerment and independence, and promote stability and permanency in children’s lives while maintaining their family ties and culture.  Grandparent caregivers have demonstrated a significant need for social/peer support, mental and physical health care, child development education, child custody/adoption assistance, access to information and resources, respite care, and advocacy. 

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Healthy Grandparents Program

Program Director

Mary Lou LaComb Davis, PhD, APRN, CPNP-PC

Program Coordinator

Mike Patton



  • Case Management To Link Families With Community-Based Resources And Information
  • Monthly Support Group Meetings
  • Monthly In-Home Health Screenings and Counseling
  • After School Child Enrichment Scholarships
  • Summer Camp Scholarships
  • Regular School Visits By The Social Worker For Children Having Behavior or Academic Problems
  • Book bags And School Supplies Provided At The Beginning Of Each School Year
  • Child Custody/Adoption Assistance
  • Yearly Pediatric Physicals
  • Each Family Is Provided With A 22-Page Community Resource Guide

Family Characteristics

Reason In Grandparent’s Care

  • Child Abuse or Neglect
  • Drug or Alcohol Abuse
  • Physical and/or Mental Disease
  • Abandonment
  • Death of a Parent
  • Military Service
  • Teenage Parent
  • Incarceration

Data On Families Served By The Program

  • 59% of families are headed by single grandmothers
  • 18% of children were placed in foster care before coming to live with their grandparents
  • 44% of children were placed with their grandparents by DFCS
  • 47% of children had no legal relationship with their grandparents upon enrolling into the program
  • 52% of children are being raised by their grandparents because of the parent’s drug/alcohol use
  • 87% of children have little to contact with their mother
  • 93% of children have little to no contact with their father
  • The average age of children when they began living with their grandparents is 4 ½, while the average age of grandparents when they began raising their grandchildren is 51.

Major Hardships For Grandparent Caregivers

  • Access to information
  • Lack of financial resources/isolation while many are living on fixed incomes
  • Unfamiliar/frustrating systems including the school, mental health, legal, and healthcare system
  • Mental health needs of the child and grandparents
  • No legal custody/access to legal system
  • Caring for children with special needs, both mental & physical
  • Childcare for working grandparents
  • Social Isolation

National/State Statistics

According to 2016 census estimates, nearly 900,000 children across the U.S. are being raised by their grandparents and neither parents living in the home.  Almost 60% of those grandparents are still in the workforce and 40% of them have provided care for their grandchildren for more than 5 years.  In Georgia alone, over 41,000 grandparents are raising their grandchildren with neither parent present in the home.  In 2012, Georgia had the 6th largest number of grandparents living with their grandchildren in the country.  In Richmond and Columbia Counties, there are over 4,700 grandparents responsible for their grandchildren’s care.  Almost 2,000 of those grandparents are raising their grandchildren without either parent present in the home and 27% have been raising their grandchildren for more than 5 years.   


  • DHR Promoting Safe & Stable Families Program
  • CSRA Regional Commission    
  • Augusta University College of Nursing
  • Local Community Grants
  • Private/Individual Donations

Accomplishments/ Advocacy Efforts

  • To date, the program has provided services to 478 families, 656 grandparents, and 1,022 grandchildren.
  • Completed legal custody petitions for 149 grandchildren.
  • Completed adoption petitions for 109 grandchildren.
  • Successfully advocated for the passage of HB 543, making it easier for grandparents to obtain legal custody of the grandchildren they are raising.
  • Initiated first in-depth educational study in the country on grandchildren raised by their grandparents.