West Wilkes Middle School recently recognized the important role grandparents play in the lives of Wilkes County’s young people.

On the mornings of Sept. 23 and 24, participating students gave grandparents cups of coffee when they dropped off grandchildren. Posters expressing gratitude were displayed.

Margo Huff, school counselor at West Middle said she believes over 40% of students in Wilkes County are being raised by their grandparents. Huff said the reasons for this are numerous.

She based her estimate on information gathered while working in the Wilkes schools, including as an outpatient therapist with children in the schools for two years. “In this setting, 85% of our children were cared for by grandparents,” she said.

“At the beginning of this year, we sent a needs assessment survey out to all students at the middle school. In response, it was reported that about 40% of our students live with grandparents alone and/or grandparents and one parent. Grandparents supply the financial and daily support,” said Huff.

“While my study could be argued by more scholarly statisticians, links have been made in the increase to Wilkes County’s substance abuse issues as well as decreased economic opportunities. In my experience, substance abuse issues are the leading cause.”

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