NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Some organizations are bringing awareness to a challenge in New Mexico. It seems that more grandparents are raising their grandchildren.

“Kids deserve to have a safe life, [a] reliable life where somebody’s going to be there for them,” said Patty Shure, a grandparent in New Mexico who is raising her grandkids.

Kids can end up with their grandparents for different reasons, and it doesn’t come without challenges due to guardianship issues.

“Grandparents who are responsible for raising their grandchildren often don’t have access to the same financial resources the parents might have access to,” said Amber Wallin with New Mexico Voices for Children.

Wallin mentioned, compared to other states, New Mexico has a much higher population of grandparents that are living with or helping raise their grandkids than others. Now, she added, there’s been an increase.

“About 31,000 kids in New Mexico are being raised by their grandparents. That’s about 6% of our childhood population is being raised by their grandparents,” said Wallin.

Kinship guardianship in New Mexico provides a way for someone else to be a legal guardian to kids whose parents are unable to care for them.

Pegasus Legal Services for Children, located in Albuquerque, provides free legal help to kids and their caregivers in New Mexico. They said they are seeing a record-high amount of clients.

“Right now, we have a very long waiting list which we have never had before, and we are just seeing a lot more of that need since COVID for children that have been orphaned by COVID or parents are really struggling,” said Pegasus Legal Services for Children Executive Director Bette Fleishman.

Wallin hopes policy changes will come around to help increase benefits for these grandparents.

“This is one of those challenges that is so important that we address in our state because we know it’s impacting so many of our families,” said Wallin.

Around 8,000 grandparents in the state raising their grandkids are said to be living in poverty, according to data from New Mexico Voices for Children.