New families

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NORTH BEND - It's easy to tell who LeaAnn Hansen-Dewey's favorite people are.

Of all the people she deals with working part time at Fall City Elementary School and at Children's Services of Sno-Valley (CSSV), it's a small group of grandparents who have taken on the charge of raising their grandchildren that have a particular place in her heart.

"These people are just phenomenal," she said. "I can go into a meeting with them, wasted after a long day, and after 10 minutes I feel energized."

Hansen-Dewey runs a program out of CSSV that helps the small, but growing number of extended-family members who are raising children other than their own. The group is mostly made up of grandparents, who range in age from their late 30s to their 70s. They make up a segment of the general population few people consider when thinking of the traditional family household.

"I don't think people really knew about them," Hansen-Dewey said.

That changed a bit when the 2000 U.S. Census came out and put numbers behind the anecdotes. The Census counted more than 5.7 million grandparents in the nation who are living in households with one or more of their own grandchildren under age 18. More than 2.4 million of those grandparents are responsible for meeting the basic needs of the children.

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