More than 2.7 million children in the United States live in grandfamilies—families in which grandparents, other adult family members or close family friends are raising children.

Meanwhile, nationwide, older adults are being cautioned to keep their distance from children because of the heightened risk of infection from COVID-19. But—for grandfamilies—this guidance is impossible. 

Made possible with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and in partnership with Generations United, in summer 2020, StoryCorps recorded 13 conversations with grandfamilies as part of a project that focused on helping us understand the unique impacts COVID-19 is having on various types of families. 

The StoryCorps participants, hailing from California to Vermont, talk about how they became a grandfamily and how the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened their challenges and inequities. 

Below you’ll hear how these disparities play out in real life, in families that are too often overlooked in our society. Listen to their fears of contracting and dying from COVID-19, barriers to accessing healthy food, and how much affordable housing and social connections mean to them. Learn from their resiliency and joys of parenting—in the face of unimaginable family tragedy or hardship, and of course, the COVID-19 pandemic.